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Stephen Burt On Reviewing

Stephen Burt, as part of a series at Lemon Hound, offers some sound ideas on the art and craft of reviewing.

Reviewers should describe the book accurately in a way that makes clear which (if any) readers will likely enjoy it; reviewers should say what’s interesting, what’s well done, what stands out (for good or ill) in a book. If the book, or its author, or books much like it, have already attracted attention, reviewers might also say why; if the book (e.g. almost all first books of poetry) hasn’t attracted much notice as yet, reviewers should explain why it deserves notice, why it’s worth our time (if indeed it is).

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John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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