We brought in an expert — M. Rebekah Otto, Books Editor at The Rumpus — to select this month’s best reviews.
As Parul Senghal pointed out in her excellent review of Ellen Ullman’s By Blood, the triangle is the “essential scaffolding” of literature. I would say the same is true of the great book review. A book review is a comfortable triad: author, reviewer, reader. There is structural integrity to this arrangement. Some reviews, of course, benefit one party more than another. And though we hate to admit it, reviews can sometimes be a self-serving exercise, serving the reviewer more than anyone else. A young writer can build his name by writing reviews, maybe before he has anything substantial to discuss. A well-received review of a high-profile book can cement a reputation. And of course, the review could just be a cloak for another argument the reviewer wants to make. Most reviews are not of this ilk, and just because something is self-serving doesn’t make it bad. The following reviews manifests the triangulation of a great book review.
- Fiction Advocate