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Amber Paulen

Review on Demand

It’s a mess out there. Enough of a mess to cause significant shrinking away from the online world where books are concerned, literary or otherwise. That’s it’s dog-eat-dog is no surprise, that those self-published must struggle against the always strong popular and trendy current so that they may make their own way in their own way is how it has always gone. Now there is the internet; where the raw hope of the self-published, so quickly shattered, can be facilitated, bolstered and soothed by the mobs willing to receive free books. A book is sent by a writer on the terms that it shall be REVIEWED.

My ignorance in all this has been informed and oh! how I wish it hasn’t. I prefer to be steeped in dead writers for no reason other than a neurotic penchant, why then, did I sign off on this deal? I accepted a free book sent by a writer quite alive on the basis of a query. It all happened so fast. . . I felt flattered. . . I accepted. I said I would read the book and write about it on my site. This, to my surprise, is very common and appears to be the contemporary nature of the blogging Book Review.

It disturbs me: all those readers who write about the books they have read, the Review, twist pleasure into task. Most likely they have begun like I have begun. . . and then a writer asks them to read their book. What was once pleasure and then a task becomes a performance and if bloggers are narcissistic fantasizers, dreaming themselves bigger and better through words and photos and what-not, what is the writer who has sent out book after book in onanistic fashion? To see one’s name and thoughts up on one’s space is one thing; to see one’s name up on space after space is quite another.

It’s not the motives behind the crash of wave after wave, crashing almost silent in the vast and vociferous sea, but the Review that really gets me. I will say it so others may know, “I am not a Reviewer, I am a simple reader.” What I write of the books I read may last page after page, it bears my long witness to that book’s enlivened spirit. When I write of the books I read, as each word drops to the paper, the spirit of the book that has transfused into me is again passed out and given life yet again, a different life, that which was of me and of the book. Something shared.

The book that dances spins my imagination into a frenzy, it is a book to surpass all other books, a book for all time! It is beyond everything that I experience on a daily basis and so much an integral part of it. How can I not praise the glory come to pass? How can I not lift its name?

To Review a book is a clinical process. It is nearer to literary criticism than my songs of adulation: Glory! Glory! To Review a book is to pick it apart, to divide it up; aren’t autopsies for dead things? To Review a book is to read from a distance, backtracking, double-checking all the pieces and parts and POVs and character development that one has stripped. To Review a book is death to a book.

To read a book is to absorb it, to open one’s deep flowing “I of my I” to the conscious words and sub-conscious life. As one reads, one’s deep flowing river of subterranean life meets the book’s deep flowing river, which is the life given to it by the writer and when these two rivers merge they create something so powerful that there is no word for it. . . but reading. It is a mystical experience; it is a perpetual flight of fancy that may shuttle one beyond, beyond the beyond, as far off, into as many multi-verses as one allows oneself to go. It is a true infinite.

Maybe, dear writer, to avoid such problems—like neurotics such as myself—in the near future, you should read what your potential reader has written. The merging of the two rivers is nothing less than thaumaturgic; patience is needed for great happenings and compassion for those willing to give themselves up.


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