Categories
HM Paintings

Chrysanthemum

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Somebody in my household must have had a penchant flower-paintings: my third childhood painting instalment is a lovely rendition of golden chrysanthemums in a vase. This may not have been my parent’s style though, because I found some of the best flower paintings in the attic. This is one of them. The frame is the original one and had to be carefully restored. Curiously, the frame was made of gypsum and the restoration may not keep for more than ten years. I’m keeping an eye on it. . .

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© HMH, 2021

Categories
HM On Writing

A Good review?

What is a good review? It is helpful. It is fair. It is honest. It isn’t venomous, or destructive.

All authors experience negative reviews, and that is all right. We can’t expect to please everybody. Naturally, there are various approaches to reviewing, and that leaves us with a few questions. What is a ‘bad’ assessment? And what is a ‘good’ appraisal?

All authors and readers probably have their own ideas of what should go into a review. Some think that so-called spoilers will ruin a book, but to me that depends on the book. If it is a crime thriller, obviously, it would be wrong to reveal the killer or the perpetrator. On the other hand, in literary and or speculative fiction it matters less – especially if the plot is less in focus than the characters.

In my reviews, I aim to give an idea of what the readers can expect, not necessarily giving a plot outline but, maybe mentioning elements that struck me as important. To me, it also seems important to give an impression of the atmosphere and use of language that the author applies to bring the book to life. I find it interesting to analyse the characters and how they develop through the plot or their circumstances.

Reviews don’t need to be long, but it is fine to mention issues that stuck the reviewer as especially apt, or especially unlucky. If we aren’t honest in our analysis, our description of the experience, reading a book – why write about it at all? If there are some mistakes in research or some issues with grammar or typos, the reviewer must be careful about how to approach these problems. In my opinion it isn’t all right to say that a book needs editing without stating why. Use examples – or don’t mention the issue at all. This isn’t about anything but fairness. If one writes a review in which one throws about negativity without underlining it with examples, it stops being fair.

Is it better to contact the author privately with critique? Some reviewers think so, but that would stop their review activity if they don’t know the author personally.

So, should we refrain from pointing out mistakes in a review? No. We can do it – but be gentle about it. If a book appears too ineptly written, it may be better to drop it, and leave the author in ignorant bliss. . .

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© HMH, 2021

Categories
HM Poetry

Musical Birds

Violin drills emerge from the trees

But nobody glimpses a fiddler, a source:

Blackbirds can emulate any one sound

They relish a challenge for fingers or throat.

The robin however, his red breast afire

Sings harmony, filled with enchantment, desire

His voice trills and ululates; he measures invention

Forms pictures of bliss while he waits for his cue

Both birds are such artists of musical skill.

We rarely can match them

Their gift or their flair has style and panache

Primeval and deep, full of beauty and nerve

Their offerings echo in ear and in mind

Give challenge or discord

But mostly delight

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© HMH 2013

Categories
HM Paintings

Irises

The second painting from my childhood home is a flower painting. There is no signature, but it doesn’t really matter. This is a beautiful painting that I’ve loved for a long time. It had an accident Many years ago – a boy was playing ball in the corridor where the picture hang – and the ball hit it. It lived on for a while in this decrepit state. Then I decided to do the only possible thing to save it, cutting off the damaged part. Maybe it improved the painting as the focus is strong on the flowers now.

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© HMH, 2021