Volume VIII, Issue 2 -- May, 2007
A new feature at the complete review
More than offering our own opinion with our reviews at the complete review, we have always wanted to provide as much information -- and as many opinions -- about every book we cover, in the form of links to any and all other reviews we can find, as well as what we hope are representative quotes from selected press sources. We remain surprised how insular many book review sites are: very few link to other reviews (Mostly Fiction and Brothers Judd are among the few exceptions); indeed, literary weblogs now do a far better job than most review sites -- though the nature of weblogs means that links usually aren't neatly collected and presented in a single space.
There are a few sites that focus on linking to reviews, the most notable being Metacritic and ReviewsOfBooks.com. These two sites both do a little more as well -- Metacritic assigns a value to how positive (or negative) a review is, as well as offering quotes from the reviews (and allowing users to rate the books as well), while ReviewsOfBooks.com does offer reviews of their own for many of the titles they cover -- but both also focus largely on current releases and offer almost exclusively large-media links.
We like to think we do a bit more: not only do we cover older titles, but we also link to foreign review-coverage as well as website and weblog reviews. But so far we have limited ourselves to presenting pages for books that we ourselves have reviewed. That amounts to about 200 reviews a year, give or take, and it's added up to over 1800 by now -- a decent library of information. But this has also meant that many books we'd like to provide information about get passed over: titles we can't get our hands on (still a problem ...) or books we read years ago and are too lazy to re-read for review. And then there are books in the news, or other books by authors whose works we've reviewed extensively that we'd like to provide information about but have less interest in reviewing.
For a long time we've considered augmenting the site with review-overviews: all the information you find on our regular review-pages except our opinion. We have occasionally looked at the critical reactions to certain books in survey-articles here at the crQuarterly, but it's impossible (for us) to do that on a larger scale -- and too difficult to try to keep up-to-date. The solution we've come up with -- dedicated pages much like our regular review pages, just without our reviews (but with a bit of additional commentary and information) -- seems like a viable and doable alternative.
One reason we were reluctant to add review-overviews was logistical. How to distinguish them from our regular reviews ? And how to make so we can easily switch from overview to actual review if/when we choose to review such a title ?
We think we've come up with acceptable solutions, and we hope we don't cause too much confusion. Review-overview pages are a different colour (green), and while the books will also be listed in our regular review indices they will be listed there [in square brackets]. In addition, there will be separate review-overview indices (arranged by author and title), and a regularly updated list of the most recent review-overviews
The first five titles we've chosen to present in this way are fairly representative of what we expect to cover in this way in the future.
Major untranslated titles -- especially ones that also attract English-language review coverage -- are an obvious area of interest, and we expect to cover a number of these. Then there are the new publications that we can't yet/haven't yet/have no interest in reviewing ourselves. But the most common category will likely be other titles by authors whose works we already have under review.
- Les Bienveillantes, Jonathan Litell
- Peeling the Onion, Günter Grass
- Falling Man, Don DeLillo
- Kalooki Nights, Howard Jacobson
- Who is Lou Sciortino ?, Ottavio Cappelani
Because these pages rely on links and information that is available elsewhere the one type of book you won't find these review-overviews for are obscurer titles -- i.e. ones which haven't been widely reviewed. There's simply no point if there are no links to link to and reviews to summarise. (Fortunately (?), of course, we'll continue to review such obscurer titles in the main section of the site .....)
As to how ambitious we will be, that remains to be seen. A vague target we've set ourselves -- just to have some sort of target -- is a book a week, fifty for the year. While the time involved in putting together a review-overview page is much less than when we actually review the book ourselves (which, after all, involves the time-consuming process of reading the book) it is still a fairly labour-intensive -- and often quite boring -- exercise. The rewards of reading through some thirty-odd reviews of something like Falling Man are limited .....
We hope the review-overview pages prove to be of some interest and use to users. It's information we find to be useful; we hope you do as well.
- Return to top -
Current Issue | Archive | about the crQuarterly | the Literary Saloon | the complete review
to e-mail us:
© 2007 the complete review Quarterly
© 2007 the complete review