I began reviewing for BookBrowse at almost the exact moment that I began writing my book, The Mark Inside. There's no question that growing my own book affected how I read others' finished ones. I found myself immediately, instantly, irrevocably generous. I don't mean that I liked everything I read. Far from it. I mean that I found myself unwilling to dismiss anything without at least trying to understand why the author had designed it that way. In other words, everything suddenly seemed deeply intentional and well-meant, if not always well-executed.
Most book trailers are, frankly, dull but occasionally one comes along that breaks the mold such as this one for Machine Man by Australian author Max Barry:
The New York Times reviewed Rebecca Hunt's novel, Mr. Chartwell, in the Sunday Book Review on March 13. Since I reviewed the book for BookBrowse not long ago, I was interested to see what the Times thought of it. (My review is only available to BookBrowse members at this time. Here's a PDF of it for those who are not members.)
Tadzio Koelb's review took a snarky tone from the start, and not just in reference to Mr. Chartwell, but to readers in general (who are apparently too stupid to know what good books are). My blood didn't really start to boil, however, until Mr. Koelb condescended to reveal the obvious truth about Rebecca Hunt's novel, the glaring fact that those of us who liked the book sadly missed:
Is it just me, or does there seem to be a wave of "intersecting lives" novels lately? I'm talking about novels which are structured around characters and place and which move forward episodically, rather than via a driving, suspenseful plot, a genre which is also sometimes called "a novel in stories." Two of the most decorated books of recent years fall into this category: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout and Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. Other recent entries include A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert, Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon, and the forthcoming The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse.