Just offering sarcasm, information and insight.
After reading a few mediocre novels I realize that literary critics play an important role in shaping cultural tastes. According to Kenneth Tynan, the “critic’s job – at least nine-tenths of it – is to make way for the good-by demolishing the bad.” More importantly, the reviewer can offer insight into an author’s work that the layperson may not consider. The critic is the specialist who has spent years developing their expertise.
The critic’s role is vital in the development of literature. Individuals cannot possibly read every work. The book reviewer can guide reader’s choice and thinking. There is so much to consider in reviewing fiction.
What makes a good review stand out? After providing a summary of the book, a critic must offer an evaluation. “In some ways, I think the summary is the least important part of the review,” offered Maureen Corrigan. Dr. Corrigan is a book critic for the National Public Radio and is a she teaches literature at Georgetown University. “We’ve all read reviews or been in the company of reading bores who want to tell us all about ‘what happened’ in a book. Summaries are snoozers. I think judgment, engagingly expressed, is the most essential part of a review. Context is also important: where does this book stand in light of similar books, scholarship in the field, or the author’s own work?”
The first consideration is what the author is trying to convey in their work. Did the writer convey their story in very creative and clear way? Or is the text filed with unclear language? “Something has to be striking about a novel within the first 50 or so pages or else I will put it down,” said Dr. Corrigan. “If it’s a début novel or I will write a mixed review. That ‘something striking’ can be the voice, the plot, the setting, the mood, the language … the possibilities are open,” she said.
Another consideration is whether or not the book is worth a reader’s time. “Books that take you into a new world are worth your time said Corrigan. “A book that’s worth your time is not necessarily the same as a book you enjoy. I don’t particularly enjoy Henry James, although I recognize that he’s not a time-waster.”
For the critic, a review is a form of self-expression. “Yes, criticism is absolutely self-expression” said Corrigan. “I appreciate critics who acknowledge their own limitations, biases, enthusiasms. I think critics must demonstrate, through their own good writing, their authority to pass judgment on someone else’s work. Daniel Mendelson, Laura Miler, Parul Seghal, James Woolcott, Katha Pollitt—these are a few of the critics whose work I pay attention to.”
Nowadays readers do not always have time to sort through newspapers and magazines for book reviews. The digital age offers a proliferation of online reviews. “I think smart consumers know that reviews like the ones that appear on Amazon are not to be trusted, given that they’re often written by the author’s mother or friends,” said Corrigan. “People who are serious about their love for books will seek out the lively and intelligent sites and forget the rest. I guess I still believe in the idea of meritocracy in this democratic age of criticism we’re living in: the liveliest and most knowledgeable critics will be the ones who folks will want to pay attention to,”
This may represent another literary path to take.
“You do all you can to humanize and familiarize the world, and suddenly it becomes more strange than ever. The living are not what they were, the dead die again and again, and at last for good” The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow.
“In summer, the song sings itself,” by William Carlos Williams .
There is no such thing as happiness. Life bends joy and pain, beauty and ugliness, in such a way that no one may isolate them. No one one should want to. Perfect Joy or perfect pain, with no contrasting element to define them, would mean a monotony of consciousness, would mean death-Jean Toomer.
Friends are here today and gone tommorrow Mrs. Chisom told Laurel and the Mayor. Not like your kin. Hope the Lord don’t ask me to outlive mine. I’d be much obliged if He’d take me the next round. Ain’t that a good idea, children? The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty.
Order you he said. He ordered you. Dammit, white folk are always giving orders, it’s a habit with them. Why didn’t you make an excuse? Couldn’t you say they had sickness-smallpox-or picked another cabin? Why that Trueblood shack? My God, boy! You’re black and living in the South-did you forget how to lie? Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.
Entering public life not for gain but out of honorable conviction, the politician must make it his first task to understand the character of the citizens with whom he was dealing by Plutarch.
Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth!
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving my strength erect against her hate.
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror malice, not word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.
According to the American Academy of Poets, April is poetry month. The last post examined Ezra Pound’s In A Station of The Metro. Claude McKay’s America recently caught my attention.
McKay emigrated from Jamaica to America in 1912. Initially, he attended Tuskegee University. Eventually, he transferred to Kansas State University. During this time, McKay faced segregation throughout public facilities. Ironically, this gave him the inspiration to write poetry.
He developed his reputation as writer during the Harlem Renaissance. McKay wrote three novels. He also produced two collections of poetry. The novel Home to Harlem was a bestseller and received the Harmon Gold award.
W.E.B Dubois’ Souls of Black Folks influenced his poetry. Dubois introduced the concept of Double consciousness into sociology. Double consciousness is when an individual’s identity develops into segments. According to Dubious, Black folks feel a two-ness as both Americans and people of color.
The frustration at injustice and struggle to embrace America underscores America. McKay incorporates both personification and figurative language to capture this tension of being both Black and American. Also, there is another duality in this storyline. America holds endless promise and opportunity. Despite this, the America also offers bitterness and anger.
America is a predator (the nation becoming a living creature) in this poem. However, the narrator also loves American culture. He sees dark days ahead but sees America as grand and powerful. The nation is striving to overcome its past sins. The republic is working towards redemption.