Reading the reviews of your book can be a little scary. At least at the beginning. The first review of Blood Work that came out was from Publishers Weekly, which is read pretty much by anyone who is anyone in the publishing business. It was a starred review – which is the equivalent of a huge double thumbs up. To say I was happy and relieved would be an understatement.
But there’s always the fear that maybe the first good review is a fluke. Maybe the reviewer was confused and thought they were reviewing a different book. Maybe they were in an unusually good mood when they wrote up the review. Or, hey, maybe they were just drunk…
Other reviews have come out since PW, and they have also been great. That helps take the sting out of one review in a small regional paper that called the book “mostly engaging.” For some reason, that “mostly” kept ringing loudly in my ears like in a story by Edgar Allen Poe…until a friend told me to cease and desist. She started quoting other bits of the review that were very praiseworthy. Authors can sure create their own special type of neurotic hell.
And then, there are some reviews that are just beautiful – not just because it’s a delight to know that another person enjoyed your book, but because the reviews themselves are just beautifully written.
This recent one from the Barnes & Noble Review by Paul Di Filippo was one of them. It’s crisp and to the point…but also laden with vibrant adjectives that made this girl blush.
Another gorgeous one was from the New Scientist, written by Paul Collins. What I loved about it was how the reviewer added new material to the topic. I mentioned in passing Thomas Shadwell’s The Virtuoso in the book. Collins expanded on Shadwell’s play and used it as a frame for a discussion of the larger arguments of Blood Work. He essentially included what I wanted to include, but couldn’t figure out how. And he did it better than I would ever have.
And finally, the Boston Globe review by Michael Washburn. Some of you may know that my first book was on science, medicine and the early fairy tale (which was not for kids, filled as they were with sex and violence). I just love how this review opens. And of course, the praise Washburn generously offers for Blood Work could not be more appreciated.
I have reviewed books for the San Francisco Chronicle and other publications. I know how much work it is. I also know how little these writers are getting for the number of hours that they have to put in, first, reading the whole book carefully and, then, writing the review. And when the reviews are as nicely written as these, you know that each has a love of the craft. What a treat to have my own writing framed so beautifully with the words of other, more talented authors. Truly grateful.