Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

To The Rescue

June 14, 1992

My senior seminar in English literature at Cal State Northridge, covering Saul Bellow and Isaac Bashevis Singer, included an open forum in which we discussed our term papers. I was alarmed that a number of my classmates were writing papers that were merely summaries of one or more of these authors' books, rather than papers that presented and defended original arguments or ideas about these books.

I thought of this while reading Brenda Maddox's review of "Eleanor Roosevelt."

Like a term paper, a review of a book should be more than just a condensed version of the work. Ms. Maddox's review contains 17 paragraphs, 14 of them devoted to a summary of the content of the book (and thus, a summary of Mrs. Roosevelt's life). Only three paragraphs include critique and commentary, with Ms. Maddox mainly faulting the book for its lack of concrete evidence regarding Mrs. Roosevelt's extramarital relationships. She should have provided far more information about the success or failure of the book, especially pertaining to the influence of events in Mrs. Roosevelt's personal life on her development into one of the most important and influential women in American history.

Please encourage your reviewers to concentrate on evaluating books, rather than just retelling them.

NICK DeBENEDETTO, NORTHRIDGE

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|