Quotation the first


November 7, 2007 by Tracey S. Rosenberg

My secret shame – the only one I’m revealing on this blog, at any rate – is that I hate reviewing books. The New York Times is hardly begging me by phone for 15000 words on Thomas Pynchon‘s latest opus, but I dislike having to explain why I do or don’t like a particular book. I read plenty, and I have letters after my name which indicate that I have successfully analyzed literature to the satisfaction of an accredited institute of higher education, but when I try to review something I generally feel that I’m reaching the emotional depth of ‘I laughed, I cried, it was much better than Cats.’ Also, I don’t seem to be in tune with a lot of modern fiction; recent books I failed to finish include Special Topics in Calamity Physics, The Time-Traveler’s Wife, and The Thirteenth Tale, even though by rights I should have gobbled up each of them based on their subject matter. All this to explain why the books in the sidebar may not be mentioned here in the blog; I may simply feel I have nothing to say about them.

I will point out, though, that Lady Chatterley’s Lover was less awful than I’d expected. This may be because a) it is not in fact cover-to-cover bonking, in spite of its reputation (and in fact I read it mainly because I wanted to know what it was really like), and b) I have a low enough opinion of Dave’s prose style that I probably only pick up half the sentences on account of my eyes are rolling a lot. I’ll still take Richard Aldington if I want any British between-the-wars anomie and masculine despair – which, at the moment, I can’t say I do.

But what I will do here on the blog is keep track of quotations. I used to have a quotation book, and if I ever dig it up I will regale you all with the things I thought worth keeping when I was a Tormented Adolescent ™. Item: two lines from Louise Bogan‘s poem The Gift, as quoted in Elizabeth Frank’s biography of Bogan:

Only her eyes speak, only her eyes
And the empty cup of her hand.


One thought on “Quotation the first

  1. kicking_k says:

    I’m not that great at reviewing, either, unless I am strongly affected by the book. In which case I want to talk about it, so I review. However, I don’t seem (judging by comments) to be very good at conveying whether I liked the book or not, which I think might be the effect of a literature degree; you’re not supposed to express personal opinions there!

    I feel, myself, that if I’ve expended 500 words on writing about the thing, I must have thought it was worth talking about, and therefore worth reading…

    Nothing wrong with reading for oneself, though, although the prevailing trend is not to keep one’s thoughts to oneself…

    However: The Thirteenth Tale – I didn’t love it as much as I was hoping to, either, instead finding it rather predictable. Time-Traveler’s Wife I loved, but was harrowed by (I’ve yet to reread it).

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Tiny bio

I live, work, and write in Edinburgh. I travel to other places as much as I can. To contact me, email writingmostly at gmail dot com.


CURRENTLY READING: The Ginseng Hunter by Jeff Talarigo.

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