Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Words not to use

this list of the "seven deadly words of book reviewing" is entertaining (though I do use "eschew" in conversation, thank you very much) but the real gold is in the comments. "The 'much-anticipated debut.' By whom? The author’s landlord?" Wha-pow! And indeed, many of the offending terms mentioned there are frequent victims of my red pen. Fortunately all my reviewers know better than to use "limn".

Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday roundup

Monday roundup, a bit late because I am moving very slowly today due to not much sleep.

On Notes from the Bookroom, I grouse about the cover for Charles Stross's Saturn's Children. I try to maintain a professional demeanor over there, so I deleted the paragraph in which I suggested the art had been done in a couple of hours with ray-tracing software and then turned in without the all-important final pass to add detail. Also, the legs of the woman "femmebot" on the cover are about three times the length of her torso and each thigh is about the same diameter as her waist. I have absurdly long legs for my height--Josh and I both wear a 30" inseam, but he's 5'8" and I'm 5'4"--so I know what long-legs-and-short-torso proportions look like. They do not look like that. Not even on futuristic indestructible sex robots.

This week's reviews include Lawrence Watt-Evans's The Summer Palace, Laura Anne Gilman's Free Fall (starred, and you can see her response here), Jonathan Strahan's The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Two (I wish publishers would put the actual year in the titles of their YBs, rather than the volume number), and Jeff Somers's The Digital Plague.

I really will write up some books here soon; I even have them set aside to write about. I just haven't had the spare time or energy. Speaking of which, I'm off to bed early tonight. (For me, 11:30 p.m. is a good three and a half hours earlier than usual.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A book with an orchid on the cover

Sometimes reviewing can seem a little stuffy and boring. Sometimes poetry can seem a little stuffy and boring. Sometimes poetry reviewing can seem, well, really stuffy and boring.

Other times you get to label John Updike's homage to fellatio "perhaps the worst poem ever written on any subject" and "bad by cosmic design", or describe W.H. Auden's pseudo-anonymous rhyming ode to picking strangers up for a quick blowjob as "Like a Penthouse Forum letter, except in lively verse, and with no women. It's sort of great, and also sort of cheesy and awful, and also occasionally hilarious."

The entire Auden poem is at that second link. It is not safe for work, and it is really really not safe for brain. It is some of the worst poetry--and the worst porn--I have ever read. I couldn't stop laughing. Enjoy.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday roundup

Today on Notes from the Bookroom, I write about the blurry line between YA and adult fiction. This week's reviews include Charlaine Harris's From Dead to Worse (starred), Craig DiLouie's The Great Planet Robbery, Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon's Mind the Gap, Jennifer Fallon's The Immortal Prince, and Walter Mosley's The Tempest Tales, as well as Karen Chance's Embrace the Night in the mass market section and Susan Hubbard's The Year of Disappearances and Megan Chance's The Spiritualist in fiction.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I do not think it means what you think it means

A reviewer used the word "interstitiality" in a review the other day, and our lovely copyeditor flagged it: "Readers will know what this means? (Awfully academic word.) Or are following descriptions sufficient explanation?" The review goes on to describe one story as "equal parts fantasy, coming-of-age tale and unconventional ghost story" and says another "wraps social commentary in sardonic science fiction".

Am I too steeped in criticism? Is "interstitiality" an obscure term that will confound our readers, who do after all work in publishing and bookbuying and presumably stay hip to current subgenres and trends? Or is it a perfectly useful and appropriate word, especially with the added context?

While I'm on the topic, today's blog post over at Notes from the Bookroom inaugurates International Reviewer Appreciation Day, March 21st. In the reviews section, we have reviews of The Inhabitant's The Great Romance, John C. Wright's Null-A Continuum, Brian Lumley's Haggopian and Other Stories, Ken Rand's Pax Dakota, and Melissa Melinda Snodgrass's The Edge of Reason, as well as a review of Jacquelyn Frank's Damien: The Nightwalkers in the mass market section and the suspiciously genre-esque Promise of the Wolves by Dorothy Hearst in the fiction section.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Reviewers wanted

The PW YA/children's reviews editor mentioned to me that she could use a few new reviewers, and I said I knew lots of people who would probably be delighted to apply. If you think that sounds like fun, please email the following to with "Children's/YA reviewer application" in the subject line:

1) A sample review in PW style, preferably of a recent children's or YA book we haven't reviewed.
2) A list of your favorite contemporary children's and/or YA authors: that is to say, show your knowledge of who's writing and getting published right now. That section covers everything from board books to novels for teens, so anything in there is fine.
3) A very brief bio, if you want to include one. Prior reviewing or professional writing experience isn't necessary.

I'm sure more people will apply than she can use, but she said she'd be thrilled to have names on file. I have no idea what the payscale is. We usually expect a book to be read and reviewed within two weeks of receipt. U.S. residents only, please, as international shipping is prohibitively expensive. Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know who might be interested. No deadline.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Monday roundup

I've got a new post up at Notes from the Bookroom, wherein I assert that not all publicists are a bunch of idiots.

Reviewed in this week's PW: Robert Silverberg's Something Wild is Loose, Eric Brown's Kethani, Alan Campbell's Iron Angel, John Farris's Avenging Fury, and Lois McMaster Bujold's Passage, as well as Graham Masterton's The 5th Witch in the mass market section.