Sunday, February 05, 2006

Writing a Book Review For The Age

I never read a book before previewing it. It prejudices a man so. - Sydney Smith

The best way to write your review is by not writing your review. Start off with a quote from someone else (preferably dead and/or famous), continue by fleshing out your review with several quotes from the book you are reviewing, and add one or two paragraphs of generic argument (use lots of big and impressive words such as 'sesquipadalia', 'quaquaversal', and 'stentorian', as a way of saying "This is a big and important book and I am using big and important words because I have read it. If you want to be a big and important person, you should read it to.") Finally, conclude your book review by quoting somebody else entirely. For instance, you could quote me: "This is a vital and necessary work for the bourgeoisse classes." Not a bad quote, isn't it? It'll certainly impress the editors.

Of course, you shouldn't just quote from other people. Use the dictionary, as well. The editor will be unlikely to publish your review unless it is fleshed out with several very exciting nouns and adjectives. These words will mark the key emotional points of your review. It doesn't matter what they mean, so much: they just have to have a lot of consonants and syllables in them.
Start your review 'rambunctiously'. Mention the 'vigour' and 'high-spiritedness' of the author's prose. Continue your review by 'stepping back through the looking glass' into the world of the author's childhood, to discover the 'subconscious' and 'cthonic forces' which compel the author. Relate the 'infernal torments' of their childhood (it won't be necessary to read a biography of the author to do this, just read a gossip column in Woman's Weekly, and substitute the author's name for the name of someone else who figures heavily in the column.)
Remember, it's hardly necessary to do 'research' about the author before writing the review, just as it isn't necessary to read the book. If you spent all your time reading books, how do you think you'd get any work done?
Continue in an 'eager' manner, looking 'wryly' back on the author's past achievements. (In other words, make them up).

At this point, your readers may be getting just a little bored. Stun them with a sudden series of references to academic writers who have written essays referring to other academic writers who have written essays referring to other academic writers who have written essays which may or may not have a bearing upon the book you are reviewing. Anyway, it makes you sound clever. If you like, do this at several other points during your review. If it made you look clever once, it will make you look twice as clever the second time. And looking clever is what writing book reviews is all about.

Conclude in a 'sublime manner', noting the author's 'newly-found religiosity', and their 'finely-honed, coruscating prose' . Perhaps throw in an impressive metaphor or two, about how 'reading so-and-so is like having the mindless corpse of Mata Hari rise from his grave and gorge on your brain', or some such nonsense. After all, writing reviews isn't about making sense.

Once you have done all this, run the spell check through it, and send it off to the editor. He's sure to publish you.

Cross posted on Intersecting Lines.


Tim said...

This is very good. Might it be worth cross-posting at Ilines? Or do you want to hog all the glory for yourself?

TimT said...

It's up, but I'm not sure if I want to do too many cross posts; I prefer just being published on one site.

Tim said...

That's cool, I was only kidding about sharing the glory. As Aleistair Crowley used to say to his blog contributors, "Do what thou wilt".

Rachy said...

wooooooooohooooooooooo, you said sesquipedalia;)

TimT said...

Not a problem.

For my next trick, I will use 'Chlodwig' in a sentence. See? I just did.

rascuache said...

*takes serious notes in preparation for upcoming book reviews in personal blog*

....i dont actually have a blog, but this piece should be used as a primary reference in preparation for all future book reviews.

TimT said...

True. You'll probably get published in The Age or The SMH by following these rules. But would you really want to?

The ghosts of A.D. Hope and Samuel Johnson will haunt the house of all who attempt to do such a thing!

Caz said...

"Do what thou wilt".

Is TimT wilting?

TimT said...

Caz - maybe time to rename this blog 'Wilt Type For Food'?

Email: timhtrain - at -

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