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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Friday, May 12, 2006 3:09 pm
175 Words
Posted by: Keir Graff

Yesterday I wrote three book reviews: The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup, by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey; Damnation Street, by Andrew Klavan; and Soccer against the Enemy, by Simon Kuper. Anyone who writes for publication knows that the challenge isn’t writing something that’s long enough – it’s writing something that’s short enough. Because we want to review a lot of books in the print Booklist, reviews are, with some exceptions, only 175 words long. When I’m, as they say, “feeling it,” I write short, putting in only what’s necessary to the review. On off days, I put in too much and agonize over what to take out. In The Thinking Fan’s Guide, for example, I wanted to note that most essays aren’t written by natives of the countries under discussion – and point out that half the contributors have written for Granta, where one of the editors is an editor. But there were more important things to say. For purposes of illustration, this blog entry is, you guessed it, 175 words long.



2 Responses to “175 Words”
  1. Likely Stories » Blog Archive » The Review Remains the Same Says:

    [...] As I’ve said, it’s tough to do that when you’re a book reviewer (writing 175-word reviews) and not a book critic (800 words and, often, many many more). But-and I suspect I speak for many of my colleagues-I do take pride in being able to say a lot with 175 words. I have definitely read longer pieces elsewhere that didn’t add much to what our reviewers have said. [...]

  2. Likely Stories » Blog Archive » Typograpical Erors Says:

    [...] It’s probably a moot point, because Booklist reviews are so short that, if I do quote from the book, it’s usually only a phrase, or a sentence at most. And if I suspected anything was funny with the quote (”ran a digger through the paper,” for example) I’d call the publisher first. They’re probably more worried about long-form reviewers – yep, critics – who like to quote and quote and quote. [...]

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