I have been asked from time to time why, in my "Editor's Choice" column, I only review books that I like. Well, there are a number of reasons.
I started writing the column because budget cuts made it likely that I would have to run a wire review to fill the space on the page on Sunday. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to run only original reviews, written specifically for The Iquirer. So I decided to write one review a week myself.
One of the first I chose to read was The Slynx, by Tatiana Tolstoya. It is a very gloomy book, hard to pick up once you've put it down. I wasn't looking forward to spending a weekend in its company. Whereupon the thought occurred to me that I didn't have to. Why not spend my time looking for books I enjoyed and telling other readers about them? Space is at a premium in newspapers these days. Why waste it telling people how much I didn't like something?
Bear in mind it's easy to write a negative review. They practically write themselves. It's much harder to explain why you think a book is good.
Moreover, not everything I review is recommended without qualification. I had definite reservations about Chet Raymo's Climbing Brandon. But Raymo is such an engaging writer and so much that he has to say is informative that I felt the good far outweighed the bad. More problematic was Ian McEwan's Saturday.
But I'll have more to say about that in my next post.