Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Reviewery

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Reviewery

Article excerpt

Reviewery, by Christopher Ricks.

A collection of reviews is a perilous thing; it necessarily suppresses what is essentially the reviews' primary interest-the books reviewed-and foregrounds what is essentially secondary-the reviewer's voice. To read such a collection is like watching athletes undertake the mundane fundaments of their sport: only the regular excellence of the best doing the ordinary can keep us rapt. One's collected assessments of others have no intrinsic glamour, and the reader's attention can only be kept if the voice and intelligence revealed through the reviews is of sufficient interest to elicit admiration in its own right. Yet very few voices, and fewer intelligences, can merit such admiration. Fortunately, Ricks is among the few. His style is flowing and firm-his paragraphs are uniformly solid, with all that is in them relevant to the limited aim of the paragraph, but always keeping larger aims in mind, so that each sentence fits neat like a perfect brick, yet also gestures at larger issues than the momentary structural necessities which elicited it. …

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