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Van Gerry

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Reviewing as an Art Form
by Van Gerry   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Friday, January 20, 2006
Posted: Friday, January 20, 2006

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A 'do-it-yourself' glance at 'Reviewing'.

Reviewing as an Art Form


            Very recently I have bravely ventured into the field of reviewing literary works.

            I deem this exercise to be an altruistic and noble thing to do in that, over a 45 year teaching career, I have developed an ingrained antipathy to marking English language and literature exercises propagated by generations of deliberately illiterate students.

            The magnanimity of this generous decision is further enhanced by another ‘ingrained antipathy’ – a hatred of having my own writing reviewed.

            However, although the mechanics of reviewing and marking are quite similar, a literary review artist has a much more interesting and delicate commission than the teacher: ‘Psychology’ and ‘diplomacy’ are involved, and a passing acquaintance with the martial arts (semantic division) is also very relevant should a ‘client’ object to a reviewer’s phraseology. An additional challenge is that the English language has many variables when used on one side of the Atlantic or the other:


“There even are places where English completely disappears –

In America they haven’t spoken (or written) it for years!”



            It is whilst considering the above factors that an assessment chore is transformed into an analytical work of art:

·        A student is compelled (physically or mentally) to write his or her essay on a variety of topics in what he or she considers to be English. For salaried compensation a teacher is then obligated to mark the end product.

·        This is not the case with the literary-writing/ reviewing process:

      An author is ‘inspired’/’thinks’ he or she has a

      'mission' (further on 'authors' missions' in next

      article) to write something (prose, verse or

      Subsequently, a commentating artist can

      choose to evaluate the literature placed
      before  him or her, according to a set of 
      personally researched and personally accepted


      As a result of this pre-review, the critic is able

      to make a reasoned judgment as to whether it

      is worth risking life, limb and sanity to pursue

      an editorial process.


            Out of the further goodness of my heart (or Art), I have designed the following Evaluation Test for those who wish to become review artists or artistes, and sit on the horns of judgmental dilemmas with some degree of comfort.It is also for ‘writers’ desiring  the coveted accolade of ‘author’.

            Although I was weaned on giving essay answers in any Examination I took, this Test is ‘multi-choice’, which means that a lucky gambler has the same chance of ‘success’ as an “A” student.

            Follow the instructions carefully, and, even if it hurts, truthfully. Tick your answer. Total your score at the end of the Test  (a – 1; b – 2; c – 3 points). :


  1. Do you use:

a.       Webster’s Dictionary? – 1 point.

b.      The Concise Oxford Dictionary? – 2 points.

c.       No Dictionary? – 3 points


  1. A Thesaurus is:

a.       A  Vocabulary aid.

b.      A mental gymnastic aid.

c.       No aid at all.


  1. Verse has:

a.       Rhyme and/or rhythm.

b.      A message.

c.       A license for questionable syntax.


  1. Anglo-Saxon is:

a.       The language of the Angles and Saxons.

b.      The language of England.

c.       The language of Literature.


  1. Punctuation is:

a.       A writing tool to add meaning and emphasis to poetry and prose.

b.      Tattooing.

c.       A nuisance.


  1. Critics:

a.      Those who evaluate productions from both positive and negative perspectives.

b.      My Mother and Father.

c.       *!*/?&#><*!


  1. Synonyms are:

a.       Words of similar meaning.

b.      Aliases.

c.       Boring.


  1. Syntax is:

a.       A system of grammatical rules.

b.      A levy on gambling.

c.       Never heard of it.


  1. A Publisher is:

a.       A person (or company) who brings books and other works to the public.

b.      A person who owns a bar.

c.       A person I would like to meet (or beat).


  1. Authors’ Den is:

a.       A compatible residence for Writers.

b.      A constellation of stars.

c.       King Arthur’s home-from-home.


Interpretation of scores:


            0             Excellent:  Buy a book and review it.


            0 – 3       Fair:  but…back into training.


           4 – 30   Unprintable:  Never darken the URL of Authors den again, except, perhaps, to buy a book.


Article by Gerry.


Review by Van:  If you think I’ll review this, you’ve got another 'think' coming.




Web Site: Vangerry Projects

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Reviewed by m j hollingshead
interesting read
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