Merlin Conspiracy Review

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Mon Jun 16 18:10:35 EDT 2003


Deborah wrote:

>On Mon, 16 Jun 2003 minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:
>[many details disagreeing with or fine tuning parts of the Horn Book
>review of Merlin Conspiracy.]

>I've been reviewing books for a couple of years now, and it's a tricky
>skill.

I too have committed reviewing in my time, and I agree it can be a stone
bitch getting it right.  I have to admit that nobody I reviewed for
insisted on a plot summary if there was limited space (and there usually
is); I don't think I would have tried, in this case, I'd've gone for a
slightly broader brush.

I never invented a murder in a book I was reviewing.  I don't think that
comes into the category 'fine-tuning', I'd call it simply inaccuracy.

Let's face it, by stating that the Merlin has been murdered and that this
is what the main characters have discovered, the review does radically
alter the balance of the entire plot.  Wouldn't you say?  The point is not
bringing to justice the perpetrators of a wrong, it's preventing the wrong
from happening in the first place, or at least, from becoming irrevocable.
That's a whole different kettle of fish.

>I think that Minnow's distinction
>between "the Merlin controls the magic" and "the Merlin controls some of
>the magic" falls into this category of editing.

Insert 'Court', delete 'the', before 'magic'.  Or, if that leads to complex
explanation, insert 'most', delete 'the'.

>The distinction that Minnow makes between "falls in love with"
>and "fancies" is more significant, but the Horn Book is an American
>magazine, and we don't have as good a way of saying the same thing.
>"Gets a crush on"?  "Thinks is cute"?

The former is the same length, the latter is a word shorter, and either is
less not-right.  If this book gets sold to people for the love-interest, on
the basis of this review, they will be put out to find that it ain't there
to speak of.

If the lerve is skipped (being as how it's pretty unimportant) there are
four or five whole words to use elsewhere...  It's a funny length,
actually, word-count 273; does the count include the headers and they bring
it up to 300, or were there other books within the same review (as it
were)?  Or would it be in column inches, and the text cut by somebody who
hadn't read the book at all?  That (disgracefully) is a good reason *not*
to review for the Times Literary Supplement!  (And what's more they don't
pay you for the length they commissioned and you wrote, they pay you for
the length some ignorant scrote cut it to, mangling your meaning not to
mention the grammar, and making you look like an ignoramus because the name
under the resultant mess is not that of the subbie who perpetrated the
massacre....  Pah! say I... ) Actually, I ought not to have been rude about
the lady whose name is on the review, it may not have been her fault.

>Start a revolution.  Stop hating your body.

Permission to hate my teeth?  (I have root-canal work being done on Friday.)

Minnow


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