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Apr/May 2008 Reviews & Interviews

Five Quick and Dirty Lit Site Reviews

by Scott Malby


The following are the author's opinions and not necessarily those of Eclectica Magazine or its editors.

 

The Complete Review

Good writing about writing can be an art form in itself. You don't learn to read or write well by being told how to do it but by immersing yourself in the best material available. Most internet sites that specialize in variations of this form of discourse tend to be generic and stereotypical. The Complete Review is one that stands out on a number of levels. This site reflects a tremendous amount of work and is definitely worth visiting. It has a respectable international flavor and features current authors you definitely want to know about. The Complete Review is a book review site of fascinating dimensions. It reaches out and through the internet to provide you with information it might otherwise take you hours to find. As is true of really good sites in cyberspace it recognizes its role as a conduit for a range of resources on a topic it might cover. The journal is intellectually first rate, sound, knowledgeable, and has its finger on the pulse of important literary works of merit. It is definitely correct when it describes itself as: "A selectively comprehensive, objectively opinionated survey of books old and new, trying to meet all your book review, preview, and informational needs." Make sure to visit its "links" page. This site is surprisingly and definitely first rate! The last time I checked there were over 2,000 books under review.

 

Bookslut

Bookslut is like some kind of precocious, illegitimate brain child of brilliant parents. This site is outrageous, intelligent, humorous, and always informative. Its overall organizational design is exemplary. The site features interviews, columns, reviews. It just might be the most entertaining monthly review of its kind on the English speaking net. One is captivated by its home page which features excerpts from the material included. I enjoyed reading straight through the introductory excerpts, which affords one a discordant, rather troubling joy ride through the current literary terrain. Bookslut is trenchant, sharp, and always fun with just a pinch of "bitchy"; meaning caustically irreverent without any mean-spirited baggage. It exudes contemporaneity while never seeming to take itself too seriously. If it were a barnyard rooster, it would rule the roost.

 

The Barcelona Review

Someone needs to apply a small electric shock to Barcelona Review's book review editor. The reviews there are quite knowledgeable and competent but stale, formula driven and flat. This is surprising given this journal's preeminent position regarding fine fiction. The organizational structure of their review site is excellent but tends to outshine the material it links to. The reviews read like safe, self-important, chore driven book reports. No matter what the genre, compelling writing has an element of risk taking hidden somewhere inside of it. It's like a love affair. It doesn't matter whether it's bitter or sweet; what matters is the degree of investment you put in the process. Compare Barcelona's review section with Scott London's Book Reviews.

 

Scott London's Book Review

Scott London's Book Review specializes in reviewing books dealing with the media and politics. Here, the writing is immediate, professional and very often sparkling. This site proves the point that good review writing is an art form in itself. You won't find any goose fat here. It's all relevant, captivating, to the point and thought provoking. While The Barcelona's book review section tends to be murky and convoluted, Scott London's Book Review site is intellectual sunshine.

 

AltX

AltX has interested me for a number of years now. It is sponsored by the AltX Digital foundation and has been online for around ten years. It appears to cover everything digital. The home page is a bit overwhelming and it takes some time to sort out what it has to offer but it is worth the effort. The net as a literary and artistic artifact is its emphasis. There is no way to describe all it has to offer. I picture it as a rich, flowing stream filled with electronic creativity. Art, audio, writing and historical criticism of the "new media" can be found there. Whether you like it or not, this is an electronic site you have to know about and experience. The literary net would be impoverished without it.

 

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