[DWJ] Review site again

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Wed Dec 27 01:01:05 EST 2006

On Wed, 27 Dec 2006 11:08:43 +1100, Sally Odgers wrote:

>I can understand the "attitude" bit, it's the "style" I don't get. The 
>Changeover (Mahy, not DWJ) is one of the best books, stylistically speaking, 
>that I know, yet the reviewer says it is "weak" and that the plot is 
>"mediocre". I don't understand what s/he means by that. Can anyone define 
>"Style" for me, on his/her own terms, without recourse to looking up a 

I call "style" the way an author puts words together, how well she uses
dialogue, whether or not she has large undigestible chunks of narrative in
the story, the kind of imagery she uses--in short, good style for me means I
enjoy reading the text irrespective of the content.  Sometimes I enjoy a
book solely because the writer has a great style, even if the story is
mediocre.  I would call Mahy one of the great stylists of fantasy fiction,
so whoever said otherwise is clearly smoking some kind of hallucinogenic
substance.  It's one thing not to like a particular style, but as I think
I've said before, not liking something does not automatically make it bad or
wrong (or weak).

I've also noticed that some reviewers resort to this kind of commentary when
they are ill-equipped to make a more substantial one.  It gets on my nerves
and makes me want to lay the smack down on them.  Words like "weak" and
"mediocre" have no meaning outside some sort of referential framework, and
someone who tries to give them an absolute meaning (like the reviewer cited
above) is either inexperienced or is trying to ram his or her opinion
through as fact.  In either case it makes for a nearly useless review.

Melissa Proffitt

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