About the Driftless Area Review
The Driftless Area Review is a blog devoted to reviewing books and TV. My tastes are ecumenical, promiscuous, and omnivorous. As you can see from the posted reviews, my tastes run the gamut, from high culture to low. Reviewing is more than just a summary of plot and a superficial opinion, but an art form and a public duty. I bring you the Good News(TM), since criticism does involve an evangelical element. If I have read or seen something really great, I want you to know about it. The opposite is also true. If I’ve read or watched something terrible, I’ll let you know so you don’t waste your time or money (two things in short supply). I am also a member of the National Book Critics Circle:
The goal is to provide visitors with reviews, commentaries, and critical appraisals. So what’s the difference?
Reviews: A basic assessment hitting all the important points, giving basic information, and spoiler-free. If it’s a book, the general outline of the plot, main characters, and profile of the author.
Commentaries: Less concentrated than reviews, commentaries will be my personal take on something, not necessarily a book, tv show, or food item.
Critical Appraisals: Less nebulous than commentaries and more detailed than reviews, critical appraisals will offer an in-depth examination of something (usually in the b0ok, tv, or movie category). There will be spoilers, if it’s the kind of thing where spoilers are involved.
The Art of Reviewing: A long-term project exploring reviewing as an art form. The series looks into prominent reviewers across different media and academic disciplines, ranging from Anthony Bourdain to Harold Bloom to Nathan Rabin and luminaries like Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, and Susan Sontag. Issues like genre, perspective, and controversy will also be examined.
Essays on Capital: In actuality, three interrelated series of essays, since Capital is three volumes long. The sources, history, and structure will be examined. The parallel failures of free market capitalism and planned socialist economies hastened the necessity for this series, since the current political discourse — or the self-parody that calls itself political discourse in this country — requires we look at this massive philosophical work again. The book can be intimidating, not only for its allegedly controversial content, but also for its sheer bulk, labyrinthine prose. The essays are meant to defuse the hot-house rhetoric and clarify concepts to non-specialist readers.
I currently work as a staff writer for the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography. I write general reviews of fiction and non-fiction titles, specifically from the last 24 months. I am also writing a themed essay series called “On Being Human,” answering the question, “What does it mean to be human?”
From 2009 to 2010, I was a regular contributor to other venues including:
I review fiction and non-fiction titles.
I wrote critical and analytical essays about Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse and the web series The Guild.
I review fiction and non-fiction titles for the Joe Bob Report, the website run by Joe Bob Briggs. Briggs hosted Mostervision on TNT in the 1990s, giving viewers his unique drive-thru commentary on some truly terrible movies.