Process Post #5

written and posted Nov 27 by Mallory Mariano

Learning to Write Literary Reviews

An important aspect to my site is a focus on the actual content that I am producing. It has been of the utmost importance that I, from the very outset of my building and designing the site, curated work that aspired to a level of professionalism that I have not previously attempted. I mean this in a sense where, I am truly trying to break ground and push myself to produce a level of authority (?) in my reviews that I have not seen myself previously author, in school or otherwise.

In layman’s terms – I am trying to produce work that can feasibly be seen in publications like The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Economist, Bloomsberg, The Washington Post, The Vancouver Sun, at the like. Even typing this, it feels somewhat egregious and *extremely* ambitious of me to even think that I could aspire to the levels of industry and brand recognition required to be even considered for publication in any of these platforms. For all intents and purposes, it is quite delusional of me to aspire to such heights. But is it?

At present, I figure that possessing such aspirations, “delusions”, especially during the drafting phase of each reviewed that I have thusly posted on the site, at the very least aids in guiding my content to the preferred ‘professional’ voice I hope comes across to my readers/visitors. And what are ambitions, if not guiding heuristics for some higher standard of work?

Learning to write reviews for the site has also been somewhat of a learning experience. As a reader, generally speaking, the majority of my thoughts after finishing a book are quite scattered and disparate. I may feel fairly positive about the overall plotting of the story, and find the character work to be palatable, but completely detest the subject mattered tackled by the author, thus tingeing my overall thoughts with a slight air of distaste. How do I translate these thoughts, feelings, reactions, into a work-able piece of text to be consumed by a reader/visitor of my site?

For starters, the majority where I personally view reviews comes almost exclusively from GoodReads. Most of the reviews that circulate on the platform, however, can vary incredibly. Some users will post a single line – ‘this was beautifully rendered and unexpectedly emotional. Five stars.’ – while others will go above and beyond with paragraphs professing their newly discovered passion for an author’s writing, with promises to tackle the remaining back catalogue of work. Overall, my experience with the platform skew a lot more relaxed, colloquial. These are not industry professionals, graduate students, University Professors, and academics writing profoundly detailed excursions of their experiences with a specific text, but rather, everyday users (such as myself) reacting to books on a very casual basis.

No, the shaping of my professional voice through my writing has been influenced largely by online publications of book reviews featured in The Guardian, The New York Times, The Globe and Mail, and CBC. These are online platforms where I legitimately visited, during the preparation stages for drafting my reviews, to ascertain the kind of critical reception gleaned by my selections thus far. These reviews featured on these sites have immensely aided my efforts to write a certain way; to possess a certain tone, intertwined with my own creative voice, to output the kind of literary criticism unique to me and my brand.

My learning experiences with learning to write a certain way for my content has not been easy, but as I mentioned earlier, that was kind of the point behind the creative vision for my site overall. Lets talk again a few years from now when I’m published in the New York Times?

Skip to content