Friday, March 18, 2011

The Idea

I'm all for quick judgments. And there's nothing I love more than picking up pretty books. It's practically impossible for me to become interested in a book with an ugly cover. I mean, the cover is its selling point, and if they fail at making that attractive, why would the innards be worth it (not to sound gruesome)? But then there's still the problem of the contents--I mean, innards--being awful no matter how gorgeous the cover. The solution? None, really. But I figured I'd make an...experiment out of it.

Every book I read, before I crack it open, I'll judge it. Dissect it. Base all my expectations only on the cover itself, There will be three levels of judgment: The photo, the description and catchline, and my immediate opinion (because that's what counts). Each book, I'll write a sort of fortune, and then I'll read it and compare.

Since this is a rather-involved process of criticism, I'll try to keep the format simple and clear. Every book will have two posts, the Judgment and the Verdict.

The Judgment is the cover part where all I will have to go off of is the cover, be it the picture, the back, the title, the flaps--anything on the dust jacket per se.  It will start with me guessing the tone and subject based solely on the front cover--so what it looks like, the cover photo. This will be called "Pictorial Evidence." Next, I'll read the proffered summary and/or catch phrase (be it on the back or the front flap) and then I'll predict the plot. Only off of that--no sneak peek at the text, no online synopses, no preview reading of even the prologue. Just the cover and my (impressive) intuition. This I will label "Cover Story." Finally, from all that, I will celebrate my ego more by deciding if it will be any good. This is creatively called "Closing Statement."

The Verdict is for after I finish the book. It serves as an obviously more objective critique but will mostly revolve around my first impressions. This post too will have parts: The "Play Off" where I look at how well I did, letting the reality and my surmising battle it out. I will try to avoid major spoilers, keeping everything vague and general. And if I was dead-on, you can be sure I'll pat my back more than a few times. Just sayin'. The only other part will be called "Final Score" where I again tell you--this time with material beyond my own feathered ego--if it really was any good. This itself will revolve around three parts: Predictability (was my being able to tell the plot--or not--based solely on the cover a hinderance to the novel? Or was it still good?), Power (what was the novel's strengths? Or weaknesses?), and Proposal (should you read it?).

This format will probably evolve/change/blow up in my face, but I'll stick to it for now. And maybe this is all a massive ego trip (I did, after all, know that Snape was good AND that he was in love with Harry's mother. All before the final book came out, even after Dumbledore died. So...there's my experience for you. And it's pretty impressive). But I thought it'd be an interesting blend of intrigue and critique. After all, if I get it wrong (and I probably will. ...once in a while), at least I'll be berating myself as much as the text. And no one likes a cocky critic too insecure to poke fun at themselves.

Which I guess is an oxymoron.

But enough. Here goes nothing.

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