Friday, July 22, 2005

Reviewing and Responsibility

Well, it worked. This blogging venture has definitely slowed down my reading. I planned to just whip off a few paragraphs about each of the five books I mentioned in my first post based on my memory of them and move on. Instead, I found myself rereading them, and sometimes dipping back into previous books by the authors for context as well.

I don't feel that I have the responsibilities of a conventional book reviewer. Certainly I don't feel compelled to provide a full account of each book as I would if I were writing for a newspaper or a magazine. My goal is simply to work out my own responses to these books and in so doing to figure out what I can take from them as a writer as well as a reader. Nevertheless, once I began, it didn’t feel right to publicly comment on a book without taking care to read it very carefully beforehand.

Not that it’s a sacrifice to reread any of these books. They’re among the best I’ve read so far this year and revisiting them (even so soon) is a happy thing. I still intend to make good on my promise to write about each of them here, but obviously on a more leisurely schedule than I originally laid out for myself. And I’ll intersperse these posts with others about books that I’m reading just now. For the most part, I’d like to be writing about current reads while they’re fresh in my mind rather than forever playing catch up.

But I’ll begin with Ali Smith’s The Whole Story and Other Stories which I’m now reading for the third time. Yes, it’s that good.


RW said...

Did you like her Hotel World? I didn't like it the first time I read it and liked it even less the second; it seemed like cornball schmaltz wrapped up in a kind of, whatdoyoucallit, modernist sensibility?

Kate S. said...

I just picked up Hotel World recently and I'm only about a third of the way into it. I liked the first segment from the chamber maid's perspective. I enjoyed the way Smith played with language in it and I was intrigued by her take on the dead person's perspective. (I'm thinking that this would have seemed even more novel when the book was first published given that it was prior to all the hype surrounding Lovely Bones.) But I found the next segment a bit pedestrian, so I put the book down and haven't yet picked it back up again. To be fair though, I read those first 80+ pages on an airplane which isn't exactly optimal conditions. So I think I'll likely begin again at the beginning and see what I think when I've read it straight through.