The OF Blog: An interesting quote on reviewing by Joseph Brodsky

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An interesting quote on reviewing by Joseph Brodsky

I was reading this article over at Brain Pickings on Nobel Prize-winning writer Joseph Brodsky's essays when I came across this quote:

The trouble with a reviewer is (minimum) threefold: (A) he can be a hack, and as ignorant as ourselves, (B) he can have strong predilections for a certain kind of writing, or simply be on the take with the publishing industry, and (C) if he is a writer of talent, he will turn his review-writing into an independent art form — Jorge Luis Borges is a case in point — and you may end up by reading reviews rather than the books themselves.

As as reviewer, I always fear A), likely commit B) fairly often, and have aspirations of C) on occasion, at least in terms of writing reviews worth reading, if not quite in the style of a Borges.  It is perhaps a trite truism when taken out of context, but I suspect that when considered at length, this quote can apply to more than just the composition of an 800-1500 word essay on a story or group of stories.  Yes, composition is the best word for this:  of what are we composed and how are our composed elements reflected in the things that we create?

Now I have another book to order in the near future, it seems.


Anonymous said...

What made you decide to write a post about it? Maybe I'm assuming too much and it was your squrriels.

Larry Nolen said...

Some days, I just want to post a link to something that interests me and little else. Not everyday can be one filled with formal reviews or translations. I am but mortal and even the squirrels have to rest. But I am making an effort to post something each day this year. Curious to see how long it'll last. Sometimes, I think it's better to muse when the mood strikes, so that later on, something deeper and longer can be produced. Hope this makes sense.

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