Sunday, August 27, 2006

Patrick Kurp has a suggestion ...

... Let's Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.) I suppose full disclosure is in order. Patrick reviews for The Inquirer. Like him, I am a Guy Davenport fan.

Oh, and here is Davenport's complete letter (also compliments of Dave Lull.)


  1. Karp makes some interesting points. I disagree completely, though, with this one:

    "I expect at least one quotation from the work at hand, if not several, accompanied by at least glancing analysis."

    I find quotations in reviews to be useless space fillers. I never include them.

    A sentence or two, or even a whole paragraph, taken out of context and slapped into the body of a review does absolutely nothing for me.

    I'd rather read the reviewer's own thoughts and analysis. If I'm going to read the book, I'll just go read the book.

  2. I'm a hopeless quoter myself, I fear - though I have nothing against reviews that don't include any. There are some books, however - John Banville's The Sea, for instance - that are so much about style that it seems necessary quote in order to give the reader of the review a taste of what you're talking about. The real problem with quoting, I find, is that not everybody is good at picking ones that work. I have read a good number of reviews where the quotes seem to be exactly what you call them: "useless space fillers."

  3. I think you may be on to something. I think I might not like them much because I'm not very good at picking them -- and they also seem not necessary for genre fiction.

    Very occasionally there might be a particular passage that resonates so strongly that it cries out to be quoted. But I'm still wary of the practice. :)