28 October 2009

An act of courage in which we expose ourselves

The only thing worth saying in a book review, Raymond Carver once said, is Good job, keep writing! Some people hearing that line assumed he was soft-hearted if not soft-minded – but Carver was neither. He knew that writing, especially personal writing, is an act of courage in which we expose ourselves — what we stand for, what we believe, what we feel — to public scrutiny.

- John S O'Connor in Harriet, a blog of the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine in the US.

image credit: Walk While Reading


  1. Carver's wrong with this view of book reviewing.

    Value and quality must be upheld. Any writing, if offered to the world to be read, has to be prepared to take its bruises with any praise it is lucky to receive.

    A reading public is not an encouraging parent cheering on its off-spring. Readers give time and focus; they can expect some sort of pleasure in return. If that sounds brutal, then a writer should pick & choose readers, but not publish.

  2. I take it you're in the soft-headed camp on this one, Vincent.... Well, it must be said, it's difficult to see a book reviewer as someone who is encouraging a writer to keep writing. For one thing, the book is finished, so it really doesn't make sense.