From afar, book reviews can seem unsexy, an often overlooked part of the creative writing culture. There are only so many hours in a day and it’s hard enough to carve out time to draft a poem, revise an essay, struggle with a story. Moreover, except in rare cases, it’s hard to see much of a “career” payoff in reviewing, unless one wishes to write extended blurbs in the (mostly delusional) hopes of literary nepotism. In fact, it’s easy to get downright cynical. Does anyone besides other writers—and the reviewed writer—read these things? Does anyone care about short stories or poems or novels anymore?
In short, the answer to these last questions is “yes.” In an era where supposedly “no one reads anymore,” we still have numerous publications dedicated to the art of reviewing. Of course there are the larger periodicals and journals: NYT Review of Books, The New Yorker, Slate, etc. But there are also smaller, more homegrown efforts such as Rain Taxi, BookSlut, The Rumpus, Coldfront, Open Letters Monthly, Quarterly Conversation, among others. The upshot is that there is still a healthy dose of readers who are committed to discovering literature and what it can teach about culture, politics, philosophy—all the good stuff that makes up the human experience. Moreover, in the highly decentralized age of social media and digital publication, readers want to know , more than ever, what’s happening, where it’s happening, and why it’s important. Reviewers get to shape the dialog while also articulating and reconfiguring their own sense of philosophical, cultural, and, of course, literary aesthetics. The payoff for the reviewer is a personal one, often of both a critical and creative nature.
As Book Review Editor for Atticus Review, I’m eager to contribute to these conversations and to read your critical reviews of poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction, novels, graphic novels, serials, etc. I’m open to two types of reviews: single-author reviews of 1000-1500 words and omnibus reviews of up to 3500 words, though if you have a different idea, please email me and pitch it. I’m especially eager to read reviews for work that might be overlooked or forgotten. I’m looking for reviews that place books within larger cultural and literary contexts, that appeal to “expert” and “non-expert” alike, and that engage the text on both macro and micro levels. For more specific information, please go to the Contact page. If you still have questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, our first month’s reviews center on poetry. We start with Laura Carter’s “Sing radiohead like something has gone wrong: A review of Rachel Glaser’s MOODS.” Carter encourages us to slow down and not look for a singular “nugget of truth” in these playful but “darkly beautiful” poems. Rather, Carter’s review walks us through the pleasures and rewards on reading this book from numerous points of entry. In the coming weeks, Kelly Davio will review spoken word poet Marty McConnell’s new book Wine for a Shotgun and I’ll review Opera Trans Opera, Jenn Marie Nunes and Mel Coyle’s collaborative chapbook whose opening poem tells us to “Stein Up!” as we enter a completely reconfigured linguistic world.
In the meantime, I look forward to hearing from the Atticus community. Thank you for the opportunity and your eyes.