Two years ago I published my first book review. It was for a work of non-fiction by Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Bryant Wieneke. A returned volunteer myself, I did the review to satisfy a couple of urges.
First, it was a service to a comrade, albeit one I’d never met. But we had the same fire in our blood: Wieneke had served in Africa and he was a writer.
Second, I’d created this “blog thing” with the idea of commenting on books and posting my fiction. But a blog demands constant attention, and fiction steeps slowly. And I could think of nothing less interesting than posting my thoughts on the kinds of books I was into at the time: Big Five stuff and standard classic fiction, the stuff that’s been around for years and is, for better or worse, proven. So when John Coyne posted at Peace Corps Worldwide that he was looking for reviewers, I jumped at the chance to grab some fresh, relevant work.
Third, I realized I could help a group of people, most of them passionate and driven and proud of their work, but struggling in total obscurity and with little to no reward but the love of doing it. I felt I could lift the veil on their efforts and give them a little light here in this obscure corner of the web. Publishing catalogues like Edelweiss and journals like Atticus Review and The Crime Factory have kept me supplied with work and inspired to explore an expanding list of writers.
What the experiences has taught me–aside from the overwhelming value and unexpected pleasure of finding and reading unknown writers (and some well-known ones)–is that there’s nothing, absolutely nothing in the world, like having an audience. No matter how small or irregular the interaction, having this space for writing, for getting read, for sharing the work of other serious writers with people curious enough to read about them, has been tremendously rewarding. Thank you, readers. I hope you’ll keep stopping by, reading, and sharing my reviews.
I’ve catalogued them here.