Sunday, April 08, 2007


As a history reader and, especially, as a buyer I thought that the most annoying reviews were those where the reviewer shows little interest in the book they are, allegedly, discussing but chooses, rather, to use the occasion of a review to demonstrate their own- presumably- remarkable knowledge of the subject. I have seen this time and again from books about the Greeks to tomes pontificating on the end of the last century. Oddly enough it seems that medievalists are the most prone to this irritating habit- but that may be because I read more of their reviews.
I generally assume it is because so many historians live in such small communities that when the shaft of light created by a request from a Books Editor to write for a paper that sells to non specialists comes shining in they rise from their desks blinking and cannot believe their fortune that they now have a platform and cannot resist the urge to shout to the world everything that they know about a subject that they have devoted their entire lives to. On the other hand, I know that historians are very busy people and maybe this is a good way of covering up the fact that they have only read the first and last chapters, looked at the contents list and laughed at the photographs. Either way I can't really blame them- except it does not help me to decide how many of the reviewed book I should stock or give me a clever thing to say about it to potential customers without me having to go to the bother of reading said book.

Anyway, I'm wrong- I'd forgotten about the really, really irritating fiction review. Looking at one for a book I was going to read I came across this- I will massively paraphrase to protect the guilty and so as not to spoil it for others...'A lives alone but finds that B has done a terrible thing. A once had an affair with B but had been responsible for a tragedy in her life'....
the next line of the review is 'The shocking revelation of this secret gradually emerges.' !!!!!
well it bloody doesn't now, does it?
I'll still read the book but how annoying is that? And just to show that this isn't a rhetorical question I'll give it a 9 out of 10.


1 comment:

saber said...

pot kettle black
ok. I rang Julian up to find out what the novel inquestion was - am horrified as it's by an author I like and whose works - in various genres - I try and keep up with. Slight element of hypocrisy on my part as when I found out who died in the the last Harry Potter(volume 6 not the new one )- I blabbed it to Julian thus spoiling it for him. And myself of course.