Monday, 4 June 2007

Review Me, Review You.

I have had another review published, again in the Nursing Standard. This one was of a book about the motivations of male clients of prostitutes. It might not sound the most exciting of reads but this review was easy to write. The book was interesting and well written and the authors’ research, which formed the back-bone of the book, was intelligent and well constructed. It was an easy review because I was able to honestly recommend it.

The problem comes when I am given something bad to review, which happened recently. The publications I write reviews for don’t want those bitchy, “this is crap and I wasted my time reading it” reviews. So I had to write a balanced review but still pointing out the flaws of it; I had to shape my arguments in a way that, I hoped, would warn people off this piece of crap – without saying crap. It’s the bad reviews that I find so hard, the reviews of books that are so bad that I just want to scream “Don’t read this rubbish! It’ll rot your brain!”

There is certainly an art to writing reviews, to summing up something in only a few hundred words, backing up your recommendations and balancing your argument so that it doesn’t sound too gushing or too negative; and I feel that I’m just learning how to do so.

Saying all that, I hate those reviews (often find online and/or in newspapers) were the reviewer wants to show off how clever they are, “I can rip this to shreds so easily”, and waste the review doing so without exactly telling us anything about what they’re reviewing। I see this a lot in film reviews. I read the review and at the end of it I still don’t know what the film is about, though I now know what the reviewer feels about the director and how in love they are with the leading actress/actor.

Drew Payne

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