I have done a number of professional reviews over the past few years, and while I still primarily think of myself as a fiction writer, I have been hoping that the critiques would warrant their own sort of merit. Fiction writing is a “circular” function, in short, juggling setting description, dialogue, character description, character thought, and character action, then weaving it all inside a sort of structural rhythm formed of narrative summary and scene work. Expository stuff is linear, and while I fuck with the template a bit, sometimes burying the thesis in the third or fourth paragraphs and coming forward with mystical topic sentences rather than the more blatant broadcasts professors seem to prefer at least in the writing of others, a review is after all a review. It is a fortification or deconstruction based on familiar staples both overt and subtle, and anyone who has ever written an analysis for a freshman introduction to literature course is familiar with the playbook.
Still, there are some traditional aspects of the analysis by design that I find rather distasteful. I do not practice (or enjoy reading) long summaries, first because I do not like spoilers. Moreover, re-tells are simplistic failures requiring no more than middle school writing skills, and if I want to “live like an idiot in the nutshell” I have the six o’clock news to enjoy. The better reviews utilize the base text to initiate discussion, creativity, and interpretation. Not only does this position the review for artistic independence, but it automatically makes the base text a compass, offering journeys and possibilities rather than static one way avenues. I also believe that many reviews are one-sided, in that the “standard” is often some strange ideal, based on either silly current trends or antiquated paradigms.
So, here is the link to my latest review based on the first solo novel titled The Crimson Corset by Alistair Cross. I have put many reviews up on the wonderful “Hellnotes” blog, and I hope you enjoy this one.