From Publishers Weekly
Woe betide the poor reviewer who must review a book on book reviewing, especially one that lashes out mercilessly at practitioners in the field. Pool, a longtime freelance reviewer and former Boston Review
editor, asserts that editors too often select the wrong books and assign them to the wrong people. Reviewers in turn heap too much praise on these unworthy volumes; the reviewers are biased, unqualified, inaccurate and incompetent. (She illustrates this point with several examples of sadly laughable prose.) The pileup of criticisms is wearing, and Pool's suggested reforms, such as a reviewing code of ethics and having columnists in a variety of fields to make more knowledgeable selections of books to cover, are useful only to a point (e.g., even with a code of ethics, editors must rely on reviewers to reveal conflicts of interest). Pool is often spot-on, however, as when she opposes the reckless use of comparisons between books or authors rather than stressing what is unique about a work. Everyone in the field will applaud Pool's passionate insistence on the importance to literary culture of the serious, informed critique, which is increasingly endangered and in need of such vigorous support. (July 6)
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Veteran reviewer Gail Pool comes at the problem of the declining and frequently abysmal quality of book reviews in America... from a down-to-earth, nitty-gritty, practical perspective...to yield a most usable and rewarding guide to the book review business.--Anis Shivani, American Book Review
, November/December 2008
Pool's analysis is as wide-ranging as it is hard-hitting. Faint Praise
is a brave polemic, written out of a profound love of literature, evident on every page.--Megan Marshall, Radcliffe Quarterly,
Pool's book is timely. It is also well-conceived and well-researched. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a more thoughtful, informative book about the work I've done for nearly 40 years.--Steve Weinberg, Boston Globe,
October 27, 2007.
Pool's book is a clarion call for a return to a vigorous kind of criticism, based on sound, logical thinking and the precise use of language.--Steven W. Beattie, That Shakespearean Rag, July 2007.
Some well-deserved pats on the head and slaps upside the head.--Kirkus,