Friday, March 25, 2016


Which is more valid? What you remember or what is correct?

I’ve been trying to write something about every book I’ve read since last year. I use Goodreads first and then Amazon to write a few sentences. For mainstream popular books, I figure that’s enough. If the book has a huge following, my two cents worth of input won’t matter all that much. I just want to keep up my reading list and track my personal responses. That’s especially helpful when I have a book club meeting and I need something to add to the discussion. I hate to say it, but if I finish a book two weeks or so before the club meeting I’m not likely to remember any of the finer points without some prompting. So yeah, I need to crib some notes.  

Now, for local authors I try to go beyond the few sentences. It’s pretty difficult for me to write in-depth commentary because I don’t feel I have the “artsy, highbrow” vocabulary that the real critics have mastered. Poetry chapbooks are even more difficult.

I was quite pleased with myself for coming up with a decent sized review for A Bizarre Sentence by Trisha Georgiou last December. I managed this feat by sitting down to write very soon after attending her launch party at the Bettendorf library.

One of the things I keep on hand is the page of critique instructions I got from Amy Parker when I took a novel writing workshop at the Midwest Writing Center. She encouraged us to use quotes because “Everyone loves to see their own words.” So I try to supplement my thoughts with some quotes.

I recently wrote a review of A New American Field Guide & Song Book by Ryan Collins. I wrote down my thoughts and used the quotes I liked the most. But then I ended by including something of my personal experience: a bit about music.

While I was reading the center sections of his book, I began to hear song lyrics. I can only figure that it was my subconscious trying to help me to make sense of it all. This has never happened to me before. I’ve enjoyed many books, been repelled by a few, but never have I had song lyrics run through my brain while I was still reading.

The lyrics were broken and incomplete, but I had enough to look up the song—get the real words as they were meant to be heard. I used those in my review.

Was I right?

Or should I have gone with what I remembered?

Perhaps that would have been more in keeping with Collins’ work.  

The latter is exactly what I ended up doing in a rewrite. I hate to admit that I am slow on the uptake, but Song Book is part of his title. So yeah, I get it now. I stand corrected.

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