Well, resistance is futile. I had little interest in being absorbed by the Blogging Borg (I mean, really, if everybody including your grandmother is doing this, how hip can it really be?) and had so far successfully remained contentedly absent from the blogoshphere. (Well, not entirely, I do post playlists I do for a radio show on WTJU 91.1 FM in Charlottesville, VA called Vagabond Shoes, but I don’t really count that as blogging.) But when the good folks here asked if I’d be a weekly contributor to the BlackGate blog, I figured, well, what the hell, I’d join the multitudes.
Which brings me to a recent essay by Joe Queenan at the NY Times in which he argues a fawning book review is as bad as a poor review. Which, in turn, reminded that a little while back there was some discussion in the genre blogosphere about the lousy quality of on-line reviewing, with some attempt to correct it that proved largely unsuccessful. Now, I’ve got a regular short fiction review gig here, and I’ve been reviewing books (on-line and in print) for quite awhile. And I have to say it’s easier to write a review about how bad a book is than how good it is. If anything, I think sometimes people who specialize in panning what they’ve read have an agenda in advertising their own good taste. Not that I’ve ever not written a negative review, but for the most part I tend to review what I’m interested in, and even when it falls short of the mark in my opinion, I always wonder if the fault is my lack of understanding rather than the author’s art (which is not going to happen if you pick up your average Tolkien rip-off and go for the easy targets). Actually, I think I’m less interested in writing a positive or negative review than to convey a sense of what I think the author is getting at, and how successful it has been, at least to me.
Now, who really cares what I think one way or another is a whole other issue.