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The best sort of review?

Wayne Levin, 'Diving Humpback Whale', from The Penguin Book of the Ocean

One of the real joys of the response to The Penguin Book of the Ocean has been the quality of the reviews. I don’t mean by that simply that reviewers have been positive about the book (though mostly they have) but the thought and care that’s gone into the reviews themselves. Late last year I linked to Felicity Plunkett’s wonderful review in The Weekend Australian, but there have also been long, thoughtful and very generous reviews by Michael McGirr in The Age, Jennifer Moran in The Australian Literary Review and more recently, a terrific piece by Stephen Wilks in The Canberra Times (mostly not online, sadly).

The terrific thing about all these pieces is the sense their writers have been genuinely engaged and excited by the collection, even where they have quibbles with it, which is to my mind exactly what you want from reviewers and readers.

The most recent review, by Gregory Kratzmann in Australian Book Review, is similarly exciting, not just because Kratzmann describes the book as a “remarkable anthology”, but because it’s such an intelligent, carefully crafted piece of writing. I’ll leave it to you to read it in full, but basically it’s the sort of review you dream of: thoughtful, lucid, informed, and which serves not just to contextualise the collection but to offer new insights and perspectives.

Elsewhere you might want to check out the Kill Your Darlings blog, which features an interview with me about the book. And in a completely different forum, the March issue of Madison, which should be in stores today, has me picking my favourite books, films, music and websites about the ocean.

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