LEMON HOUND

More Bite Than Bark Since 2005
On Reviewing
On Reading & Reviewing: Anita Lahey

On Reading & Reviewing: Anita Lahey

When I was editing poetry reviews for Arc Poetry Magazine, I had my radar tuned for pieces that were mean-spirited, careless or just plain blind. These sins, however, were rare, and when caught (usually) easily addressed. What troubled me more was reticence, reserve—any smokescreen cloaking the reviewer’s true feelings. I believe a review should offer...

On Reviewing: Zoe Whittall

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog (as opposed to an official publication), why? What does blogging let you do differently? ZW: To start a conversation about a new book that a) lets readers know it exists b) talks about how it...

On Reviewing Natalie Walschots

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? NZW: The purpose of a review, be it a book review or an album review, is to communicate with that text’s potential audience, to place the text...

On Reviewing: Jan Zwicky

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? JZ: To inform people who might be interested in reading the book that it exists, and to offer an imaginatively and intellectually engaged appreciation of it. LH: If you write reviews, how would you describe your approach, or method? JZ: I do review, but...

On Reviewing: David Orr

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? DO: A good review is a persuasive judgment entertainingly delivered. Criticism itself is a broader category, and includes exploratory essays, polemics, advocacy, whither-the-poets-of-yesteryears and so forth. Poetry...

On Reviewing: Thom Donovan

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? TD: Review differs for me a little whether I am reviewing performance, visual art, poetry/literature, or something less identifiable through its particular field, discipline, genre, etc. In...

On Reviewing: Sonnet L’Abbé

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? SL: Ideally, a review condenses one knowledgeable and generous reader’s full experience of a book. By knowledgeable I mean having a sense of what constitutes quality across...

On Reviewing: Ken Babstock

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? KB: Being a late arrival to this conversation I have to preface my answers by underlining how much I’ve enjoyed the bewildering array of previous respondents. Much...

On Reviewing: Michael Scharf

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also writeabout books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? MS: Reviews make a work’s meanings manifest in a propositionalform–i.e. a form that’s easier to argue about. Reviews are also like amplifiers. They process the signal and changeits...

On Reviewing: derek beaulieu

I think it’s a poet’s responsibility to review books. As writers, we have committed ourselves to taking part in a dialogue, a discussion about art, and as such its our responsibility to review other books – to look at and write about other writer’s work – in order to further a discussion of the role...

On Reviewing: Vanessa Place

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? VP: The purpose of a review is to discriminate. Discrimination is how we find good friends and know which strangers to shoot on sight. LH: If you...

On Reviewing: Steven W. Beattie

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? SB: There are those who believe that book reviews should confine themselves to a description of what a book is and avoid any attempt at evaluation. This...

On Reviewing: Marjorie Perloff

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? MP: I take the purpose of book reviews to be description and evaluation. By description, I mean that the reviewer must try to convey to the readers...

On Reviewing: Elizabeth Bachinsky

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? EB: To my mind successful reviews identify works and discuss them within their own framework or tradition; the reviewer—and his or her opinion of the work—is nearly...

On Reviewing: Maureen N. McLane

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? MM: I don’t know what the purpose of all reviews might be, but the purpose of the reviews I’ve written has tended to be: to make my...

On Reviewing: Christian Bok

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? CB: Reviewers are like the crossing-guards of literature—providing traffic-signals (if not hazard-warnings) for readers who might like to step off the curb, but need to know where...

On Reviewing: Aaron Kunin

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? AK: Attention is part of it. Sorting. Valuing. In fact, reviewing books isn’t too different from writing them. The main purpose is to make it possible for...

On Reviewing: Evie Shockley

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? ES: From the perspective of the reader of reviews, I would say their purpose is to give one’s readers enough information about a work for them to...

On Reviewing: Matthew Zapruder

H: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? MZ: I tried to articulate what I think the purpose of a review is in a recent article I wrote for the Poetry Foundation. Basically, I was...

On Reviewing: Rob Winger

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? RW: For the most part, I think reviews let conversations begin. In their best incarnations, they provoke and promote discussion not only about writing, but also about those ideas that inform the writing. LH: If you write reviews, how would you describe your approach,...

On Reviewing: Mark Wallace

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? MW: The purpose of a review depends a bit on its length and the kind of publication it’s in, but generally speaking I feel like the main...

On Reviewing: Michael Turner

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? MT: I’m not sure I want to address the question of “purpose,” though I will echo what many have said about a review being an attempt at...

On Reviewing: Jonathan Ball

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? JB: The purpose of a review is to describe the book. There is a tradition of reviews being evaluative, but I don’t feel that this is their...

On Reviewing: Jennifer Scappettone

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? JS: In the utopian sense, the purpose is to engage in a more profound dialogue with another writer than can be had in pre- and post-reading moments,...

On Reviewing: Ange Mlinko

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? AM: At its most basic, I guess, the purpose of a review is to arouse appetite in the reader. LH: If you write reviews, how would you describe your approach, or method? Do you offer or engage in exegesis, theoretical, academic, reader response, close,...

On Reviewing: Jacob McArthur Mooney

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? JMM: The purpose of book reviewing is to boost good literature. That’s not to say that the purpose of each and every individual review is to act...

On Reviewing: Annie Finch

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? AF: The purposes of a review are to bring attention to a book and to help readers better understand or appreciate it.  Blogging is a wonderful invention...

On Reviewing: Gregory Betts

An Inter-review, including on Mathew Timmons’ Credit LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? GB: Pre-blogger Bertram Brooker argued that the role of the critic is “to clarify for the public the artist’s aims...

On Reviewing: Anselm Berrigan

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? AB: I think the purposes of a review are multiple, and begin or may begin as a record of the reviewer’s experience with the book under consideration....

On Reviewing: Ben Friedlander

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? BF: A lot of my reviewing was done pre-internet for a small community of readers who, truth be told, knew a lot more about the books than...

On Reviewing: Emily Warn

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? EW: To begin or engage in a conversation about a book by arguing for or against its merit. Given the sheer volume of poetry titles—anywhere between 500-1,000...

On Reviewing: Michael Robbins

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? MR: A review should be something more than an appreciation or an attack—it can appreciate, or attack, but it should do so in order to clear the...

On Reviewing: Eileen Myles

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? EM: No single purpose. A book Im advocating for – a book I’ve been invited to write about that I have my own reasons to write about even if diff from the editor who invited me. A book to hinge some other argument on...

On Reviewing: Mitchell Parry

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? MP: In my opinion, the purpose of a review is to present to the reader the act of engagement.  Evaluation, proselytizing, are secondary to my experience of...

On Reviewing: Ron Silliman

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? RS: I don’t think that there is a single purpose. Rather, there are many, dozens if not hundreds of reasons to respond to something – a book,...

On Reviewing: Brian Joseph Davis

In lieu of responding to the 10 questions Brian Joseph Davis offers the following review, published recently in Eye Weekly. Duty now for the future One man’s journey out of criticism Cassingle By Jim Hanas. Available free Cassingle by Jim Hanas is a collection of short stories. It’s free and online in several formats. Besides...

On Reviewing: Stephen Burt

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? SB: I’ll confine my answers here to reviews of literary writing—poetry, fiction, personal essays, graphic novels and the like, books that aspire to be judged as works...

On Reviewing: Catherine Daly

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? CD: I have taken to writing mini reviews, mentions, reader reports, and draft reviews – mostly of .pdf versions of books – on my blog.  Most of...

On Reviewing: Michael Bryson

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? MB: I think the purpose of a review is to provide an honest response to a book. One must admit up front that one brings a host...

On Reviewing: Daisy Fried

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? DF: It’s a public engagement between a reader and a book. I blogged for a few months for Harriet and a few times talked about books I...

On Reviewing: Steven Collis

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently?SC: In a review, one writer enters into dialogue with another (or better, one piece of writing enters into dialogue with another). The ideas, aesthetics, techniques, forms or...

On Reviewing: Jordan Davis

LH: What do you think the purpose of a review is? If you also write about books on a blog, why? What does blogging let you do differently? JD: I write public correspondence. Part of reviewing is signaling to the poet under review that I see them and to some extent I notice what they’re...

Jonathan Ball on Reviewing, Round 2

I really only demand three things of reviews, and feel that my demands are modest. Which is why I am so dispirited by the reviews I read. Firstly, I think a review should actually describe the book. It is unclear from most reviews whether the author has actually read the book or not, the reviews...

Lemon Hound