Good reviews, bad reviews

Niall Harrison ranks up there with Matt Cheney as one of my favorite reviewers--although, as far as I know, he only blogs his reviews. He's always civil. He blogged his favorite works of 2004. He puts his critique into some sort of context, which is great.

But Niall also points out a worthless set of ratings. I flipped through a few pages but found no explanation for how stories received such report cards. Some classics were listed next to some slight stories at the bottom while authors, who might acknowledge the story was slight, resided at the top next to other classics. Why?

Honestly, I think even our good reviewers could be more consistently specific Cheney did a spectacular job on Kelly Link but then didn't explain without abstractions why certain first lines worked while others didn't. If we criticize something, we ought to have a reason why. If you hate a politician, I don't give a damn how colorful your expletives are. Tell me why. Did a critic write something you didn't like? Do you think he's pretentious or fascist trying to supress your precious ideas? Explain why. Give evidence. If you don't, you're the fascist trying to supress ideas different from your own (as Non-Sequitor so eloquently put it).

This is why I love Dan Green's blogs. I don't give a damn whether I agree with him. He explains himself (almost too thoroughly at times). Now if you can explain yourself, you can use that colorful language. Colorful language without thought is like staring at the arrestingly beautiful but disgorging lunch once they open their prolific but empty mouths.

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