Friday, December 21, 2007

Why I'm Not A Book Reviewer...

I've just finished reading the first of my new garden books, and I said I'd post a little review about each one that I read. However, in this case, I'm not the right man for the job... or I should say, not the right person for the job, for it turns out that this is really a woman's book that is somewhat peripherally about gardening. I hate to say anything construed as being negative about this slim (244 pages) little book, for the author, Dorothy Sucher, is a wonderful writer... she is an accomplished author of mystery books, and brings a truly terrific writing style and voice to The Invisible Garden. It's just that: a) it's not all that much about gardening (through the first 2/3 of the book I was saying to myself that the garden in this book really WAS invisible), b) people keep dying or being estranged (about one ever 60 pages, which is a lot for a gardening book), c) the mood through much of the book is as sparing and restrained as the cold Vermont countryside she lives in.
I sort of think this book was originally intended to be more about gardening than it turned out; but it's like Liz when she leaves a voicemail for somebody... she sets out properly, then meanders off into a half dozen conversational byways and side-roads, and ends up leaving a five minute message that's more of an essay on life as it is today. Once after one of these soliloquies, she hung up the phone and said, "Oh God, did I just say all of that?" So, I think it's a woman thing, and this is a woman's book, that is partially about gardening. If you like terrific writing, and you're a woman, I sincerely (and seriously) highly recommend this book. It just wasn't for me... but as George Costanza would say on Seinfeld: "It's not you, it's me."
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Oddly enough, this is actually one of the more useful book reviews that I've read lately. More evocative than factual, sure, but the main point is that you're able to convey your response to the book in clear and specific and patently honest terms. That means that your regular readers are well-equipped to judge, based on a built-up knowledge of you and your personal preferences, whether this is a book for them... or not. And I very much enjoyed the little sidetrip into Liz's voicemail style!
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