Comments: Bushwhacked (Ivins and Dubose)

Actually, when I'm making my students write reviews, I tell them that the purpose of a review is to let the reader know whether they should read the work themselves. In other words, there should be some summary, some discussion of the argument and evidence, and some discussion of the success or failure of the book on its own terms and in terms of the audiences likely to consider reading the book.

I particularly like your line about "apply[ing] one-dimensional solutions to four-dimensional problems."

Posted by Jonathan Dresner at August 2, 2004 12:00 AM

My problem is that when I start talking, I have an astonishing amount of trouble stopping again. :)

Thanks for the link, I'll read it today.

Posted by Anne at August 2, 2004 09:03 AM

I insist that direct summary be a small component of the article (I say 1/3) and that other points can be raised in discussing the components of the argument and evidence. Ideally, I say, you don't have to summarize separately at all, but build the whole thing into analysis.

But that's my style.

Posted by Jonathan Dresner at August 2, 2004 10:45 AM

I shouldn't refer to them as "reviews" at all. Technically I'm not actually trying to compose a serious "review" of a book I read when I elect to talk about it.

My "reviews" are more just babbling on about what the book made me think about.

Maybe I'll find a better word than "review" to use.

Posted by Anne at August 2, 2004 02:46 PM

There are many styles of review: yours are much more substantive and interesting than the nattering that passes for 'reader reviews' on Amazon, etc., so you have as much right to the term as I or my students do. (actually, your reviews are invariably better than my students at the central question 'is this worth reading and why?', but that's a discussion for another time)

Posted by Jonathan Dresner at August 2, 2004 04:57 PM

Jonathan -

#1 - I'm reading books I want to read, not books that are "assigned" reading.

#2 - I'm not studying six other subjects at the same time.

#3 - With all due respect to my readers, I'm not worried about impressing anyone, conforming to someone else's prejudices, or counting words to reach a specific length.

I'm happy to be educated :) by my readership but since I'm not paying you for grading, I have no sense that "my future" rests on your opinion of my opinion, of you see what I mean.

Posted by Anne at August 3, 2004 08:04 AM