Thursday, March 27, 2008

Seven Deadly Words in Book Reviewing...

...are listed here in the New York Times blog. If you read the comments (196 so far) the list of other people's pet grieves the list seems to become endless - few words are left.

Just for the record the seven words are: poignant, compelling, intriguing, eschew, craft, muse and lyrical. Some of them, it turns out, are just code for something else - which confirms my suspicions. It's an interesting and entertaining piece (I think I am allowed to say that..!).


Blogger Lee said...

It's intriguing how difficult it is to eschew lyrical phrases when trying to write compelling blog posts about the craft of fiction, especially when the muse has fled in search of less poignant piffle.

No wonder I'd make a terrible book reviewer.

Thu Mar 27, 10:50:00 am  
Anonymous Clare said...

Heh. Very good.

Thu Mar 27, 12:49:00 pm  
Blogger JL said...

You know 'interesting' is what people say when they want to appear as though they care but really don't...

The Word of the Day is your word verification code:


Thu Mar 27, 06:36:00 pm  
Anonymous Clare said...

Yes, JL, I think 'interesting' said in a sarcastic tone can mean that - which I think is a shame. I think 'intriguing' and 'extraordinary' can also be good or bad, and of course when things are written you can't really tell. All fairly sad stuff.

And yes, the word verification does throw up some excellent combinations. Sometimes I think they ought to mean something, even if they don't.

Thu Mar 27, 07:35:00 pm  
Anonymous cfr said...

I love Lee's comment, so funny.

I know I've definitely used 3 of those 7 words when discussing books on my blog and now I feel I have to do better. Where is my thesaurus?

But when you read the comments added you do get a sense of "Why bother?" Almost every descriptive word is up for grabs for the bonfire. Oops sorry, descriptive suggests adjective and it's adverbs too, along with nouns and verbs. Is anything left?

And then you get the sense that the words are frequent because the book deserves them. What the readers overlook is that the thriller may yet be another one that is "compelling" but if it wasn't it wouldn't have made the page. Do they want to read and be put off by "This thriller is less than compelling and can be successfully read over two weeks' worth of daily working day commutes of up to one hour?" Please.

The comments make interesting reading too. "I do believe" - said in the accent of Anne of Green Gables - that our own Ms D may have added a comment there. Go on, confirm or deny...

Hilariously the article author says that "eschew" is not said anymore but someone has come back with a rejoinder saying "Um, I do!".

But the most LOL comment for me was this one:

'A great teacher of mine once said:
Never say
*There’s an orifice in the edifice*
when you can say
*There’s a hole in the wall* instead.
Good advice.'

I had such advice at school, but I wish my teachers had had the capacity to make it all as funny as that.

Thu Mar 27, 11:01:00 pm  
Blogger jem said...

Interesting. I don't think I've used any of these words in my previous reviewings. But there are a couple that I could fall for. Generally they all seem to have a tone of the kind of things people feel they ought to say about a book, rather than the kind of things they might actually think or feel when reading them. I'm a fan of reviews that speak about the experience that particular reader had with that particular book, more than the general overview 'this was great' type of thing.

Fri Mar 28, 09:25:00 am  
Anonymous Clare D said...

Jem: I'm sure I have! But I'm not looking.

CFR:'Is anything left?' Yes, exactly my thoughts too. I can't make up my mind whether reading this sort of thing is good - in that it makes me think more about what I'm really saying - or bad because I find it inhibiting. Yes, that commetn was great - and so were many of the others - very funny.

(And yes, comment 197 twas me...:-)

Fri Mar 28, 09:42:00 am  

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