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  • Value and Significance
    value may be measured in relation to other books in the same genre works addressing the same subject matter past and contemporary authors with a similar style and or previous works by the same author In his review of William Trevor s The Story of Lucy Gault David Milofsky compares the novel to Trevor s past works and comments on its place in literature in general Trevor s been called the Irish Chekhov but that s not really adequate since Chekhov never really wrote novels The truth is that Trevor is sui generis in a class by himself While his stories collected a few years ago in an omnibus volume are brilliant novels like The Old Boys and Felicia s Journey are lasting contributions to our literature He s a literary treasure and never less than interesting reading The Story of Lucy Gault may not be the most accomplished novel of Trevor s distinguished career but that still places it far beyond most of the fiction that will be written in English this year It s highly recommended reading Value is also determined by the universality of application how and to whom the work applies Are the book s contents

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1012&guideid=49 (2015-10-15)
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  • Format
    Reviewing Specific Types of Books Publication Resources Print Friendly Format About this Guide Contributors Citation Book Reviews Format A book s format or physical make up reflects the ideas of both its author and its publisher A book reviewer might mention characteristics of format in relation to suitability and aesthetics Is the book s size convenient Is the binding durable Is the print type legible Do illustrations diagrams and maps if any aid the reader s understanding of the material Is the index correct and complete Are bibliographies and reference lists present In response to artwork present in Ken Lamberton s Wilderness and Razor Wire John Calderazzo comments on both the exactness of the drawings and the possible meaning of this detail orientedness to Lamberton s life J ournal entries and small essays are complemented by drawings of tarantulas conenose beetles horned lizards and other desert creatures in almost photo realistic close up This is why I suggested that Lamberton may not find himself any closer to nature when he s finally free How can he get more intimate All of his drawings in fact are rendered in extreme close up like visual infatuations writ large Nothing seems to exist

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1013&guideid=49 (2015-10-15)
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  • Planning and Writing
    the requirements of any good composition Clarity correctness readability and interest are very important A review should give its readers not only an understanding of the reviewer s intellectual response to a book but also an awareness of the basis for this response through example and analysis Specific passages from the book are used to exemplify the reviewer s points regarding elements of style form and technique There is no strict pattern for writing book reviews Guiding the book reviewer s writing process however are the three essential objectives of relating what is said in the book how it is said and how true and significant it is As with the planning of a composition make a list of possible material to use in the review ideas responses information examples Study this material to decide what to include in the book review and what proves extraneous Put the items to include in a suitable order for instance from greater to lesser importance Once the material is organized a controlling idea for the review emerges this controlling idea may form the topic sentence of the review and provides guidance for achieving coherence and focus throughout Use the topic sentence in varied

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1014&guideid=49 (2015-10-15)
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  • Beginnings
    or giving the scope of the review as it relates to the subject and the reviewer s response to the book Another effective approach is to highlight the origins and past history of the subject treated in the book this technique may also be used to introduce ideas about genre style or view of life depending on what the reviewer has chosen as the focus of the review A statement of exclusion shows what will not be addressed in a review and focuses attention on what really will be discussed At the beginning of his review of Reynold Price s Noble Norfleet David Milofsky uses a comparison between Price s newest novel and his previous works It would be nice to report that Reynolds Price the distinguished author of more than thirty books including A Long and Happy Life and Surface of Earth has added significantly to his oeuvre with his new novel but such is not the case Not by a long shot A reviewer might also quickly catch reader attention by appealing to human interest perhaps a personal reference or brief anecdote The anecdote should connect to or exemplify the main focus of the book review Note the anecdotal technique Wendy Rawlings uses in the introduction of her review of John D Agata s Halls of Fame While on a recent trip to England I witnessed a cultural exchange that struck me as emblematic of John D Agata s book of essays Halls of Fame An American friend who has spent the past year tolerating a chilly flat in a London suburb for the sake of his British fiancée wanted me to guess the height of the World s Largest Pencil I don t know eight nine feet tall I said See See I knew it my friend

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1015&guideid=49 (2015-10-15)
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  • Development
    and Technique View of Life Value and Significance Format Planning and Writing Beginnings Development Conclusions Reviewing Specific Types of Books Publication Resources Print Friendly Format About this Guide Contributors Citation Book Reviews Development T he primary focus of a book review is supplied in the beginning paragraph After this main idea is established it needs to be developed and justified Using an organized list of material the reviewer details the reasons behind the response to the book References to past history causes and effects comparisons and contrasts and specific passages from the book help illustrate and exemplify this main idea Personal philosophy and moralization should be kept to a minimum if included at all the reader of a book review is interested in unbiased thoughtful reasonable and well developed ideas pertaining to the book in question The bulk of a review consists of the development of the reviewer s main idea the response to the book and the reasons for it In each of the example reviews that accompany this guide the reviewers develop their ideas through references to comparable past and contemporary works analysis of aspects of form and technique and inclusion of notable passages from the books being

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1016&guideid=49 (2015-10-15)
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  • Conclusions
    review and leaves the reader with a clearly articulated well justified final assessment A restatement of the topic sentence is better than a cursory inspection of less important matters like book format and mechanical make up Main emphasis should remain primarily on the qualities and materials of the book being reviewed At the end of Wendy Rawlings review of John D Agata s Halls of Fame Rawlings summarizes previously stated ideas When D Agata doesn t find the balance the lyricism borrowed from poetry seems not quite yet to fit I don t wish for D Agata to join the legions of the smug and ironic but at certain moments I begin to wish for authorial presence that will assert itself less forcefully in terms of the arrangement of words on the page which are often blasted into squadrons separated by asterisks white space or unhelpful section headings and more forcefully on the level of the sentence as D Agata does in Notes toward the making of a whole human being a five page essay composed of a single breathtakingly constructed sentence The conclusion statement cements the reviewer s recommendation or lack thereof of the book Clearly this is David Milofsky s aim in the conclusion of his review of Reynold Price s Noble Norfleet Even with a failure it is interesting to read as accomplished a writer as Price but his new novel cannot be recommended on any other grounds The final sentence of a review should be both memorable and thought provoking to the reader As at the end of John Calderazzo s review of Ken Lamberton s Wilderness and Razor Wire this final thought might be put in the form of a question R eading about Lamberton s flawed but exhilarating life makes me wonder about temptation

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1017&guideid=49 (2015-10-15)
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  • Reviewing Specific Types of Books
    special considerations as to how to approach the review Information specific to the categories of nonfiction fiction and poetry can be found under the Form and Technique heading of this guide Below are further questions to consider based on a book s category Biography Autobiography Does the book give a full length picture of the subject Focus on only a portion of life What phases of the subject s life receive greatest space Is there justification for this What is the point of view of the author Are idiosyncrasies and weaknesses omitted Treated adequately Overplayed Does the author endeavor to get at hidden motives What important new facts about the subject s life are revealed in the book Is the subject of the biography still living What source materials were used in the preparation of the book History What training has the author had for this kind of work What particular historical period does the book address Is the accound given in broad outline or in detail Is the style that of reportorial writing or is there an effort at interpretation Is emphasis on traditional matter like wars kings etc Or is it a social history Are dates used extensively and or intelligently Is the book likely to be out of date soon Or is it intended to stand the test of time Are maps illustrations charts etc helpful to the reader Contemporary Thought o Who is the author and what right does he she have to be writing on the subject o What contributions to knowledge and understanding are made by the book Travel and Adventure Is the author credible What is the author s purpose for writing the book Does the book contribute to knowledge of geography government folklore etc Does the book have news value Mystery How

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1018&guideid=49 (2015-10-15)
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  • Publication
    Form and Technique View of Life Value and Significance Format Planning and Writing Beginnings Development Conclusions Reviewing Specific Types of Books Publication Resources Print Friendly Format About this Guide Contributors Citation Book Reviews Publication T here is a good market for the newcomer in book reviewing Many editors including those of big name magazines do not like to use the same reviewer too often and this means unknown unpublished reviewers have good opportunities to break into the field Send query letters to editors to find out what their publication needs are Try smaller special interest publications first ethnic feminist religious etc if the reviewer has knowledge or affiliation relevant to the publication it may increase the chances of a positive response from the editor Stay current with new books and read other book reviews Once an assignment for a review is given produce timely quality work specific to requirements set by the editor Build publication credits with a variety of periodicals pursue possibilities of starting a regular column for a single newspaper or magazine Book reviewing is not generally a highly profitable venture but money can be made depending on a reviewer s qualifications reputation and dedication to the field

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1019&guideid=49 (2015-10-15)
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