Monday, December 14, 2009

Kirkus Reviews--not your typical book reviewer

Kirkus Reviews: Closing after 75 years
With its reputation for sharp-tongued (or penciled) book reviews, the magazine will be missed by librarians everywhere. In looking for ripe examples of their more colorful put-downs, I realized that those truly knife-twisting reviews were more the exception than the rule. Whether good, mixed or ugly KR's reviews rarely failed to deliver thoughtful, forthright and entertaining prose.
Here then are some (un)representative taglines I did find...
*Any author who loves Venice can't be all bad, no matter how lacking he is in subtlety or how clumsily he handles suspense. Never mind. Relax, have a cappuccino and enjoy the scenery.
*A questionable mishmash of cultural, scientific, literary, psychological and political material gives birth to an atmospheric but unnatural doppelganger to Shelley's classic.
*Not a single overweight, ill-dressed or remotely ordinary character disturbs the high gloss. The mystery , by the way, is settled before the big question: How will Nora's New Year's Eve party go?
*A novel of leaden purpose rather than spirit.
*Stylistically two-dimensional, with frozen surfaces that resist the reader.
*Manufactured suspense, along with pages of invented and hackneyed dialogue, vitiates this account of the varieties of heroism.
*Mawkish morass of gloom, lightly frothed with escapism.
*One constant is the dialogue: stilted and unnatural throughout, as are the characters' responses to their many mind-blowing adventures.
*Gingerbread characters, cookie-cutter plotting.
*About half a book, and pretty thin at that.
We'll miss Kirkus.

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