Monday, July 28, 2008

We're making the best of a bad summer, weatherwise. La Nina is the culprit. Rumor has it that we're on the way to setting records for cold and rain. By way of comfort, the weather people tell us it's supposed to warm up in October, just in time to screw up our skiing.

But nobody came here for the weather. The best antidote to a gray and rainy day is to get out and play. We hiked three hours through some stunning alpine terrain on Saturday, and another six hours on Sunday. The weekend had been set aside for backpacking on another trail - a plan we had to abort when we learned the trail is still snow-packed.

The most recent Anchorage Press is its Books Edition, meaning that they've devoted two pages to reviews of three books by Alaskan authors Kantner, Doogan, and Sherwonit. Reviewing seems to be going the way of tatting. I, for one, am frustrated every Sunday by the ADN's so-called reviews - quotes of one or two paragraphs from newly-released Alaskan titles, most of them self-published.

I'm not a publishing snob, but I like reviewers to be selective, both about what they review and what they say. Of the three reviews in the Press, Sherwonit's book was handled best. After reading it, I had a good sense of what the book was about and whether I might like to read it. That's a far cry from what I get from the ADN, where the main goal appears to be to hurt no writer's feelings.

I know writers who refuse to read their reviews. That's their perogative. I like reviews, both as a writer and a reader. I don't want to hear only from fans.

The LA Times Book Review is folding. Does anyone else miss reviews?

2 comments:

Andromeda said...

Yes, I miss review sections! And I just stumbled upon your blog today, in my search for blogs that are attempting to pick up the slack. I'm so glad you thought the Sherwonit review was a good one. First, I'll admit he's a friend. (Alaskans know Alaskans, of course.) But second, I also appreciate reviews that include both the positive and the negative. When my last book came out, I had some "mixed" reviews (even from the Daily News) to which some colleagues expressed a little consolation, but I truly appreciated those mixed reviews. I didn't want the local reviewer to grovel. I wanted respect, and that's what a critical review is. Anyway, I'm not sure what we can do about the lack of Daily News coverage now. I do appreciate that the Press put out such a big books section. I'm taking the route you're taking, Deb -- trying to connect with people online as well as through the traditional print sources.

Deb Vanasse said...

Nicely said - a critical review is indeed a form of respect. It acknowledges that we're mature enough to learn and grow.