Reviews and Revues

20090826120720Humm..well the title is a reference to the book review I have to write for a magazine – I am now a book reviewer for a magazine. Not sure if I can mention which one, but it’s exciting – it’s not paid but I’ll be published in a magazine, yay.

The other difficulty is that the book I’m reviewing is not well written. I assume it’s a children’s book or at least within the 9-12 year old age bracket. I was expecting it to be much better than it was and instead am sorely disappointed. In some ways I relish the challenge of writing about something that I know is not a good book, yet in other ways I feel like I have a huge responsibility to the author not to crush their dream (as it is the author’s first and only published book).

I keep thinking of ways to soften the blow – it’s a sweet story – yet there is a huge but. I went back over the book after a break of a few days, thinking that perhaps I was too critical, that maybe my inner critic is just being too harsh. Nope. It was as I feared. The worst thing is that I wanted to write a happy, positive review, and I still can. It needs to be balanced though – after all, parents will not be happy if I lie to them and say that the language, spelling and sentence structure is ideal for their child. The story doesn’t make an awful lot of sense without good language, I have to say.

Oh well – I guess I’ll just have to be tactful and issue a warning to the parents who might buy or are thinking of buying the book. At first I was concerned that I was being snobbish or something, but then I thought about it and realised that I’ve never been snobby about books – I’ve read so many and from all sorts of genres and in lots of different styles, and I’ve never thought too much about ‘good language’.

The truth is, a good storyteller is captivating, and a few mistakes here and there wouldn’t distract from that (for example, there are always going to be a couple of mistakes, even with the best editor). Maybe that’s the problem with this book – a bad editor?

I’m going to see Dirty Dancing in the West End next week (er…the ‘revue’ part of the title…yes, I know that’s not exactly what it means, but still). It’s a girly thing, since my Mum and Sister are going too! I know, I should be busting stereotypes and all, but it seems that a lot of the guys I know wouldn’t want to see Dirty Dancing. In some ways it’s perplexing that men are so weird about romance or musicals – after all, if they weren’t into love or romance, why do they have heterosexual relationships? Is romance something that women want precisely because it’s a fantasy, an escape from reality?

We know that heterosexual relationships are not always going to be all romance and sweetness, so why do we like watching films about love and desire? I sometimes feel that I like them because of the comfort factor, the happy ending (sometimes…). Then sometimes I feel embarrassed that I like ‘soppy films’, but I shouldn’t have to feel like that. Of course I don’t assume that all women like romantic films, or all men don’t like romantic films, but the question here is why are men (and some women) so quick to dismiss them? It isn’t as though they are rubbish films – some of the best ones really are good. Baz Luhrmann’s films (Australia, Strictly Ballroom, Romeo+Juliet, Moulin Rouge) are amazing. I also really enjoy Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually, as well as Casablanca and Roman Holiday (Audrey Hepburn). I find it absurd to suggest that the reason women like romance films is because they expect real relationships to be that way. I’m pretty sure most of us enjoy the escapist qualities of films!

It could be the whole fake-macho thing about not wanting to deal with emotions. Men are put under a lot of pressure to not show their true feelings or to bottle things up inside because they don’t want to be seen as weak. That really bothers me – that people think showing emotion is weak. It isn’t weak, it’s just human. I’ve always said I hate things being labelled ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ and that ‘feminine’ things are automatically given less value than ‘masculine’.

The more you recognise that these categories have no intrinsic value, the more your eyes are opened to the stupidity of attributing people with feminine or masculine traits. We are all just people with a collection of personality traits – it doesn’t matter whether these are feminine or masculine. Sorry if that isn’t very clear – I will get round to explaining it more coherently one day…

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sarah says:

    I usually agree with you on a lot of your views…and once again, I AGREE!! I try my utmost best not to label things “feminine” and “masculine” these days…but there are still a few things that seem to have to fall under those categories, much as I don’t like to do it. The boy is a tad funny about romantics but I have managed to force him to watch a few…next on the list is Love Actually, because I actually think he’ll like it…actually!

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  2. diddums says:

    I’ve noticed that (about certain traits being regarded as ‘weak and feminine’ and to be avoided)… I blogged about it a couple of times, but deleted one post, and my other one is not well-written. 🙂

    A blogger friend (a young father) once said that he didn’t want to buy certain classics for his nephew as the current covers were too girly. Mum said boys miss out, because girls can read anything, whereas boys feel they can only read certain kinds of books. I don’t know why that is, or why the feeling is so strong… perhaps some people are too mouthy about what is ‘girly’; it seems to be accepted that it’s better if you were a tomboy when you were young. But why should we regard a tomboyish girl as ‘masculine’? She’s just herself, though it doesn’t help when some tomboys talk about how they would never be seen dead in a skirt, wearing pink, or watching ‘Sleepless in Seattle’!

    The ironic thing is, I keep being told pink used to be a boy’s colour.

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