Monday, July 28, 2008

Zealed the deal

I've just finished bashing out a review for the Australian Book Review competition. It started out with 600 random, pretentious and wildly incoherent words, so I added a few more to pad it out. Then, with wild puritanical zeal, I edited and honed and cut the whole shemozzle down into a readable version.

Then I found that I was some 194 words over the word limit.

I like these words as they are. They're nice words, wise words, witty words; they say what I want them to say, at the elaborate length that I like to say things at. They're - well, not exactly insightful, but I think there's some interest and entertainment in there.

Oh, and there's also this quote by Milhouse Van Houten:

"How could this happen? It started out like Romeo and Juliet, but it ended up in tragedy!"

Listen up, ABR - you don't want to get Milhouse angry, now, do you?


Tim said...

What book did you review? If you don't mind me asking.

TimT said...

I settled for a huge cliche. It'll make the judges groan and roll their eyes and toss my review into the scrapheap.

Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union.

Damn near didn't finish reading the book in time!

forlorn said...

Good luck! I'm sure it was very witty and amusing.

Maria said...

I had a look at the book review comp myself and thought - hmmm, if I wanted to enter, what book could I read within a few days and also write a competent review of, which was published after 2006?

I thought about buying a copy of Samantha Brett's "Modern Love: How the Blog Generation Do It" which was the first book which sprung to mind, but considering most of the information is on her blog anyway, I didn't want to waste my $2 on the bargain basement table. I think entering the competition costs about 7.5 times that amount anyhow.

Congrats on finishing the Chabon book! I'm yet to even start on The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay!

(I think a bigger cliche would be if I reviewed Mister Pip or The Gathering, both of which I've read this year. I probably could cut and paste everything from Google about 'em.)

Maria said...

"I'm sure it was very witty and amusing."

Forlorn, are you referring to Chabon's book or TimT's review?

forlorn said...

I was referring to Tim's review. I haven't read Chabon, so I'll have to wait for the review on that one.

I'm sure Samantha Brett must be down to 50 cents at the discount bookshop under the bus terminus at Central. A good sneer is surely worth 50 cents, although Brett's work in itself might not be.

TimT said...

Apparently ARB will take reviews on any book with a publication date of 2006 or after. Though of course I think there's always an element in this competitions of you having to appear to agree with the judges, even if it's just to get them on side. It's just good policy.

I found a way to cut my review down to 800 words (EXACTLY 800 words, I might add!) without excising the Milhouse quote.

And let's face it. With sentences like this -

'The middle's not bad either.'

- I'm sure to win!

Maria said...

I have found that some* judges/markers of reviews/essays etc think that if you vehemently disagree with them, you mustn't have read the material properly/must be stupid/illogical or insane or you are just a person of plain bad taste. In which case you just don't deserve a prize or high grade.

It is a conundrum in some* academic writing where you are encouraged to think for yourselves, but if you think too much for yourself and disagree with that source material your marker wrote or worshipped, you fail even more tragically than if you plagiarised it.

Damn and darn.

*not to indict all such judges and markers, of course, sir! (sycophantic slurping look)

Maria said...

If it's possible to do without writing 800 words - or 994 words - TimT - what's your verdict on The Yiddish Policeman's Union? Good, bad, interesting, boring, worth reading, worth using as a chair leg prop, recommended any of the above? Like to give us a little insight?

TimT said...

I quite liked it. For most of the novel it's classic American crime fiction/noir, set in an alternative history scenario (if that makes sense).

Then for the last part everything seems to suddenly change and it goes all apocalyptic - the plot works up to a climax similar to those you'd read in 1960/70s science fiction or fantasy novels. (Which makes sense if you've actually read any of those!) But it was nicely handled - not exaggerated at all.

Despite the fact that it took me three weeks to finish it (in my defence, I get easily distracted), a good read.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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