Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Meta-Post: A Sense of Direction

I wrote a sort of blog post journal as I worked on my review of Gideon Lewis-Kraus's fine book, A Sense of Direction.  I thought I might share it with you all and maybe do more of these in the future.  This is (mostly) unedited and it rambles and is possibly incoherent at some points, but that's what makes it interesting, right?  Welcome to the first meta-post. Consider it as a sort of commentary track and a peek behind the curtain.

Is it "non-fiction" or "nonfiction"?  Google is cool with both.  ugh.

I don't know how to write about this book. I don't know how to write a review about a nonfiction book that I really liked. I really want to encourage or inspire people to read it, but I feel like my end result is always kind of lame.  How great would it be if my review could simply be:

"You guys, A Sense of Direction is a really good book.  You should read it."

I've actively been writing this review for two weeks and it's still not done.  I'm resolving to finish it TONIGHT and just put it out there.  I have many other books to write about and this one is slowing me down.

I didn't finish it.

When the author is also the main character, when do I refer to him by his first name and when do I use his full name?  I guess when I'm writing about the character, then I can just call him Gideon, but when I'm referring to him as the author I need to stick with the full name or the last name?  Is that going to be confusing for people?  It's confusing for me!

I hate writing plot summaries, but it's good practice and honestly, it's probably the most important part of the review, right?  Plot summary is different than asking "what is this book about?"  I feel like I'm flailing and failing on that front.

Can I work in the Murakami and David Foster Wallace references?  Probably not.

Possible quotes:

"Total freedom doesn't feel like real freedom; real freedom requires the contrast of necessity. What can this walk mean to you if you haven't figured that out?"

"In Berlin photographs were taken of performances. Writers wrote about the photographs. Bloggers posted about the writers. Installation artists installed pieces about the bloggers."

"a modern pilgrimage means an experiment in obligation dressed up as just another desire."

"a free choice to feel obligated"

"I'm less sure of that than I once was, that the self-discovery of austere travel can be as selfish as it can be selfless, and that every quest is also an evasion."

"A hippie Hasid jam band started to play behind us, and we could no longer hear anything at all over the pious din."

"the stories we tell in retrospect rarely resemble the stories we hope we might tell one day."

I feel like I've re-read half of this book.  Lesson learned on waiting to write reviews.  I'm going to be totally screwed when it's time to write about The Age of Miracles. I finished that months ago.

Why is this so hard? Why has writing about books that I really enjoyed gotten so hard?

I scrapped an entire angle in which I wrote about how I read a book about pilgrimages while on a three-day trip of my own.  It just wasn't working.  There were good sentences in there and I'm sad to lose them.  Is this how real writers feel when they toss out some work?

This book has so many great quotes that I love, love, love but none of the ones I want to use get across how funny the book is. It's a funny book! But it's also a book with a lot of self-discovery and I want to get that across without it sounding douchy.

I don't remember why I wrote "motives" in the front of the book.

I need to update my Goodreads review - this is a five-star book.

Don't read other reviews.  Finish your review first!

Ugh, this journal thing is almost as long as my review.  Maybe longer?  Bad sign.

Review finished!  Time to drop in the cover image, publication info and publish!

Wait, is it "Riverhead Books" or "Riverhead Hardcover" or just "Riverhead"?  Why is there no mention of the book on the publisher's site?  Whatever, I'll just go with "Riverhead" and fix it later if necessary.

Done!  Post scheduled for the AM.


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