There’s been rumblings against amateur literary reviews such as my own I suppose, by the more professional, usually affiliated with a news media or official lit review organization. So do we serve a purpose?
We don’t have to. Honest, all we’re doing is giving an individual reader’s reactions to a work, and we don’t have to follow any particular framework of critical theory, nor do we have to follow a specific structure. I, for example, write little of the book’s plot, but rush to the keyboard when something either wows me or severely disappoints. Sometimes it’s something that I question, or that I seek or found within a paragraph that leads me along a pattern of thought relative to the story, or the characters, or the impact on the reader. Most often it’s read with the perennial writer’s view alert to the language and technique. I don’t claim any expertise and am beholdin’ to no one.
It used to bother me a lot when I’d discovered that 90% of my readers were simply Googling a particular literary work, likely for some school paper. I then cut out their access. Then I decided to put it back out there and I’m glad I did. In checking the stats the other day, I realized that many of these Googlers actually spent quite a bit of time tracking down all the entries on a particular piece. Will they plagiarize it? Possibly. But what matters more is that they might have seen something in what I said that led them to appreciate the reading in a different way. Maybe I clarified something. Maybe I noticed something they didn’t. Maybe they thought I was totally wrong. Rarely, a Googler will comment and it makes me feel good when they do. I’ve even been asked once about how to cite my weblog (I sent her to Dr. Jerz’s site for MLA citation).
So no, I don’t mind the researchers any more. Maybe I’ve helped somebody think of something in a new state of perception. I kinda like that.