book reviews

Warren Ellis and why "Book Reviewer" ought to be something one can make a career of

Let me be blunt: Warren Ellis writes about books in a way that makes me want to read them.

This is an exceptionally rare skill and it ought to be the sort of skill which provides one with a comfortable income, homes on several continents, cars so rare that racing games have never even heard of them, several ponies (because who wouldn't want a pony) and the absolute best chemical amusement aids money can buy. You probably think that I'm exaggerating, but I'm dead serious. The ability to make people make a point of seeking out and reading books is like alchemy in that it's a both a lost art and probably impossible.

I've always found most book reviews strangely bloodless. If you're passionate about something, you ought to feel compelled to bust out a few superlatives. Instead, you mostly get a generic plot-summary, some historical background, a personal anecdote, and maybe a few sentences on something like "voice." I've read very few reviews that made me more interested in a book than I already was. I don't want a book report; I want reasons to read it (or avoid it).

Check out this Warren Ellis write-up of Don Winslow's The Power of the Dog. Does that make you want to read some Don Winslow? I know it sure as hell works for me. I've never read Don Winslow, and now I feel like this is a serious failing on my part.

Thomas Pynchon's Against The Day wasn't really on my radar until I read what Mr. Ellis had to say about it. After reading that (and if you haven't, go back and please, please do so), how could I not read it? I'm halfway through it and it's utterly spellbinding.

See? "Spellbinding?" How does that make you want to read a book? That's what I'm talking about. It's not as easy as it sounds, is it? It's an under-appreciated talent that deserves more respect. And cash. Lots and lots of cash.

EDIT: Here's another one: Warren Ellis on The Water Knife

No, not  this  Warren Ellis. The other one. Don't feel bad; they get this sort of thing a lot.   

No, not this Warren Ellis. The other one. Don't feel bad; they get this sort of thing a lot.