Wednesday, August 12, 2009

School Library Journal (USA)

Lovely review from SLJ just in today for the American edition of The Book of Dreams: "lyrical writing and exquisitely detailed descriptions of the Faerie world and geographical locations in Canada." Sweet balm to the wounded after a brutal review from Kirkus: "a skeleton of a story." (Some skeleton at almost 700 pages.) One of these days I'll learn to ignore reviews. As James Joyce himself observed, whether good or bad, they are all subjective opinion. There are no authorities on fiction, only readers who like or dislike what you have written. Truth to tell, but, I will always be delighted when I get the thumbs up from the younger generation. One book blog - in BetweeN the pages - gave BOD five stars. Here's their rating system: 1 star - use as doorstop, 2 star - bearable while on pain medication, 3 star - read once, do not repeat, 4 star - definitely keep it on your shelf, 5 star - use as altar. It doesn't get better than that!


KJH said...

I'm a librarian, so I read all the library-related review magazines. I actually went "say whaaat?" when I read the Kirkus Review of BOD this week. Have to disagree with them. I re-read The Book of Dreams every year around Thanksgiving in October because it takes me to my magical happy place. If I listened to Kirkus, I would miss out on so many good books! They're so harsh. They actually advocated that the author of a book they didn't like "be taken out and shot." Nice, eh?

I'm pretty harsh on books myself, but I read hundreds of them. I've been reading yours since I was a teenager and they are definitely, definitely up there amongst my favourites.

OR Melling said...

Thanks, KJH. I'm thrilled by your comments on BOD. I think the Kirkus Reviews are so harsh because they are anonymous, which is rather incredible in itself and obviously encourages all kinds of abuse. The reviewer takes no responsibility for his or her words; an act of cowardice really. When I wrote as a critic for the Irish Times, John Banville discouraged reviewers from savaging anyone's work. He said if you could say nothing good about a book, then don't review it. A much classier attitude, than the quick stab in the dark style, eh?

OR Melling said...

PS At the same time, I must confess I wrote some pretty harsh reviews for Books Ireland (before John Banville influenced me for the better!) so I guess I'll have to take Kirkus as a karmic return.