I may start a new category under my book blogger hat entitled: Book Blogger Rants. 😉 Here we go…
Shall I compare Hemingway to 50 Shades of Gray?
Green Eggs and Ham to Hamlet?
Can you imagine how ultimately ridiculous those reviews would be? “This Hemingway dude has no where near the good sex scenes E.L. James has. I mean, like, how did people procreate in the 20’s, dude?” Or, on the flip-side: “Unlike Hemingway, whose prose indicates a thorough understanding of the English language, each word carefully chosen, James misuses words, frequently forming abominable sentences that has the reader asking if English is, indeed, her native language.”
I knew when I started book blogging that the books I would choose to review would embrace multiple genres. Recently I’ve even begun blogging about non-fiction books. The one rule I adhere to is that a book should be reviewed/judged/critiqued within its own genre otherwise it becomes as ridiculous as the above comparison.
In yesterday’s post, Twitter Novels?, I mentioned a scathing review of the novel I’m currently reading. While I’ve considered that review further and fielded a comment from TJ Fox, I realized that that scathing review is related to expectations. The reviewer read the blurb, expected a different genre (indicated by the wording in the review), read it and found not a romance or chick lit but a literary novel.
Most literary novels are not written in the same terse style of genre fiction. Sometimes writers of literary fiction will possess a style of writing that, to me, comes across as musicality. As you’re reading, you can hear and feel the rhythm. And this is very different from what can be referred to as prolix style, defined as:
tediously prolonged or tending to speak or write at great length
These are the kinds of books that make you fall asleep after three paragraphs. That’s overwriting.
If you’re used to conversational writing or terse sentences, literary fiction may come across as “overwriting.” But, is that the author’s fault or the reader’s lack of knowledge regarding genres? Should a book be denigrated because the reader doesn’t like or perhaps even understand the genre?
I remember reading reviews of David Wroblewski’s The Story of Edgar Sawtelle saying he overwrote and I thought, I’d like to overwrite like that!
Now, I love fast-paced conversational rom-coms. Many of these are tersely written. Some use only the barest of details to set a scene while some none at all. Honestly, these novels aren’t going to win writing awards and won’t be remembered in a few years. Does the author or reader care about that? Probably not. The point is that the book is being enjoyed now for what it is. Think storytelling as opposed to strong writing.
As a reader, I am not looking for the same experience from literary fiction as I am from rom-coms. Equally, I am not going to apply the same criteria to reviewing these two genres.
I do believe it’s the responsibility of book bloggers or bookstragramers or whatever medium a reviewer uses to provide insights on ARCs to understand the genre of the novel that is being read. Frankly, it’s unfair to the author to write a bad review because you were expecting chick lit, read a literary novel, and chose to review the novel as chick lit. Ideally, if you know you hate literary novels, you probably shouldn’t request them.
What’s up next: ARC Teams–What Are They and Will They Get Your Reviews Banned on Amazon
or something like that…