Sunday, 28 November 2010
The Lag is a somewhat recent development that has affected my reviewing over the past year. I have a reputation for being 'harsh' or (as I prefer) critical but if I changed my reviews after the lag they would in some cases be worse. The more time for thought, the more analysis goes on. I am an analytical person. I analyse everyone and everything but I am worse on myself. With people, I analyse people's body movements, their tone, their phrasing etc which isn't all that different to how I approach reading a narrative. It hurts the brain. I blame my mother. I come from a long line of overly analytical broads.
Back to blogging... Being analytical has been a great tool professionally and blogging but it also robs some of the joy. Even books I really really enjoy, I have irks. That isn't the case for all of them though - some books escape judgment and just are.
here) featuring the screenwriter and fell in love with his ridiculous funny career and his influences and liked the movie again. Writing a review immediately after reading a book means that you are in the zone. You're still (hopefully) unaffected by outside influences eg online reviews, friend's opinions etc. While in the case of Easy A I was unduly influenced by an extremely charismatic and hysterical gay screenwriter, I am normally thwarted by my own thought processes.
Emotional resonance of a title is something that is clarified with time away from the book. I read a book a few months ago that is getting widespread praise across the blogosphere. At the time it really hit me hard. I wrote an email to the author expressing the personal impact of that book. A week later my feelings on the book turned. Yes it was VERY emotional but nothing about the book stayed with me. The construction of the book wasn't bad but it wasn't extraordinary either. The material, the style, was elevated by the emotional context of the story. Three steps removed and it wasn't as jaw droppingly impressive in my eyes. I haven't reviewed it. I don't think that that would be fair. In this scenario, and most in my case, lags are helping in me removing myself from the initial hype - whether outside or internal.
While we are all very used to the hype we are exposed to from other bloggers, we don't often think about our own. Most of us refer to it as a gush fest, we pass on our love for a title to others. We have all done it and it is a great things - to share the book love. But sometimes our initial impression and love of a book can be shaky. There are books I enjoyed immensely and hyped it up in my mind. When I re-read it I would think 'was I on crack?' This doesn't mean that the content was horrible and I didn't see it, more likely a premise swept me away or the anticipation of the climax. I find that a unique perspective or style can sometimes blind me more than anything else. But with distance, I realise that my mood or another factor had blinded me to less than stellar aspects.
This was a problem a few months back while in NYC when I was handed a book not yet released as an ARC. I was one of the first people to read it - big honour. Except the author witnessed me read the WHOLE thing. I don't know who found it more uncomfortable, me or the author. I might go with the author as I would laugh and they said something along the lines of 'it's not funny ' completely confused by my reaction. Which they were right, it wasn't a funny book. But there was a sarcastic line that was worthy of laughter. I repeated the line to the author and they nodded slightly in understanding. Awkward! (Seriously, it could be a reality television show. Plonk an author and a reader in a plexiglass cube and see what ensues!)
Later the author busted me crying my snarky, cold heart out. I suspected this might have pleased them but I am not entirely sure.
Afterwards I was faced with talking about the book with the author. It was a great book. Very different from what I expected but in a great way. I was so cautious with what I was saying, not because I was nervous about being honest but because I was still processing the story. I ended up sounding less than convincing in my thoughts. It would have been wholly unsatisfying experience for said author.
The longest lag would be that of Forever by Judy Blume. I read it as a child (and got in BIG trouble at school for proliferation of unsuitable material) and loved it. It was informative and entertaining. There were moustaches and hooked rugs. While I appreciate now that Forever isn't the gold standard of YA literature, it's impact surpasses the turn of phrase and the 70s overtures. It is important because of what it imparted to its readers, how it informed young girls and better yet, made them wary of guys who name their appendages. The Lag might have helped me see Forever in a different light but it gave me a better, new appreciation of the book.
What about your lag?
Posted by Adele