Saturday, December 10, 2011

Unreviewable Books

Four months ago I finished Slaughterhouse - Five. I liked it well enough. In fact I sped through it. Having never been able to finish Vonnegut before, but loving the idea of him as a person I was really pushing myself to like something, anything by him and I had finally found something sink my teeth into. Does anyone else do that? I love some authors as people but just can't love their work *cough Hemingway cough* and then just punish myself by trying to get through something that obviously isn't for me.
Seriously, who doesn't find Hemmingway just hilarious? Probably most of you. Right.

Anyways, I finished Slaughterhouse -Five and thought "Well, I don't have anything interesting to say about this." I don't know if it was the prose, or the story or just the overarching influence of the book but I was paralyzed by my lack of commentary.  Luckily at the time I was behind on reviews. This was going to be future Sarah's problem. Only now future Sarah is really just Sarah, and I still don't have anything to say about one of people's favorite Vonnegut books. So instead of writing some halfhearted review of a book I now only vaguely remember I am letting me off the hook. Slaughterhouse - Five was good. It was a pleasant way to spend a couple of days back in the summer. I recommend it as a way to ease into Vonnegut if, like me you tried but didn't really like Breakfast of Champions. That is my review. Do with it what you will.

Does this ever happen to you? To you ever just blank on what to say about a book you really wanted to review? What was your solution? Let me know!


Emily said...

I have that problem sometimes. I have trouble reviewing books that are either 1. not that special, so I don't have anything to say about them 2. super well-known, so I feel like anything I say will sound stupid. When I did a short review of Marx and Freud I basically just told people to read them because they were important. I mean, what can I say about Marx that hasn't been said a million times?

When I really want to review something but con't think of what to say I usually try to say what surprised me about the work. Another trick for books that everyone is familiar with is to talk about the style rather than about the subject matter. When I talk about Austen or Shelly I talk about the tone or the structure, because maybe people haven't thought about that on their own.

Basically, don't feel guilty about not reviewing a book. Books are complicated things, and sometimes the way we feel about them doesn't fit well into a review format.

Becky (Page Turners) said...

I have a big post coming up soon about a similar problem I have, which is where I have terrible difficulty reviewing books that I absolutely love. Books like The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood and Swords and Crowns and Rings by Ruth Park come straight to mind. I feel like they are so wonderful that there is nothing I can say that does them justice, but by not reviewing them I sometimes feel like I am doing them an injustice by not sharing them with everyone.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I love it when I gush about a book, the ones that are hard to review - not because they weren't good, you just dont know what to say... argh, they tend to sit in draft more for quite a while as I think of how to word them.

Usually by the time I write them people comment on what a good review it is and I think, really? It was so hard to write...

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I've had this problem many times. I feel that way when it's a famous book or a mediocre one like some of the other commenters. But the times I feel that way the most are when I adore a book. Some times I feel like no matter what I say I won't be able to express why the book is so wonderful. It's a tricky situation.

Kerry M said...

Yes! I do that a lot, actually. I've let myself off the hook for reviewing every book I read these days, and just do what I can and try to enjoy myself.