Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015


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15. What’s worse that not being reviewed?

Hoping nervously for a good review is so much easier than assessing other people’s work. I got a gig reviewing another first-time novelist’s work for a book section and God, it felt like I was trying someone for murder. What if I got it wrong? I was worried that I would be unjust, perhaps missing the whole point of the novel. However, if I was too lenient and acquitted, then a writer might go and do it again to other innocent readers.

I worked on this review for about two weeks. I thought about it. I anguished over how to say what I wanted to say in a clear, objective way. I tried to put the book into the context of others contemporary Canadian novels. I tried to be respectful, but also wanted to write honestly about what I thought.

A large newspaper that I was writing for hacked the copy up into bite sized pieces that could be read quick and easy in a lawn chair or on the bus. This resulted in some edits that I thought detracted from my argument. They also got the name of my own book wrong.

I felt violated initially. I felt misrepresented. I felt misunderstood. And then I thought, touché. How many authors have felt like the reviewer misunderstood what they were really saying? The universe has a way of distributing justice sometimes. Justice, in addition to being objective, is often subtle. You have to be paying attention to notice that you just got a slap up the side of the head.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Related item from our archives

Beverley Stone

Beverley Stone grew up in outport Newfoundland before moving to Toronto to attend Osgoode Hall Law School. Her first novel, No Beautiful Shore, is published by Cormorant Books (2008).

Go to Beverley Stone’s Author Page