Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Reed Farrel Coleman Update and some thoughts on book reviewing

Reed Farrel Coleman's follow up to The James Deans is out this month. One of the most striking things about the new novel, Soul Patch, is the way Coleman evokes a sense of place, and the latest issue of The Big Thrill Webzine, has an article from Coleman on Coney Island.

This article is a prime example of why I usually publish my reviews early. I finished my review of Soul Patch a couple of weeks ago, but I've been sitting on it, planning to release it when the book came out. This morning I boot up the computer and read this article, where, among other things, Coleman talks about how he wanted to make Coney Island more of a character in the book than just a setting. Well, this is a point I made in the review. Now, this means that Coleman was entirely successful, because I got it. I still cringe, however, because I hate the thought of anyone thinking that I take points for my reviews from anyone else-especially an author. I make it a point not to read anything about a book I plan to review until my review is done. A reviewer has a responsibility to give their impressions about the book, and only the book.
I was planning to start April off with my review of Hard Man, but I published that review early, because I knew I would break down and listen to Guthrie's interview at Behind the Black Mask. I really wrestled with what to write about Hard Man, and I knew that listening to the author talk about it would likely change my impressions of the book, and, in fact, my impressions of the book have changed a little. After I published the review, the author contacted me (to thank me, not to complain), and we ended up discussing the book. That discussion has changed my perspective somewhat, but I still stand by my review, and the criticisms I leveled, because those were my initial, honest impressions, and that is what a book review should be.

No comments: