A Numerical Rating System--The Road

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I've given some thought to a numerical rating system for book reviews. And I may try to implement it.

But in the course of thinking about it, I thought also how the system suddenly shifts when one book intrudes that stands so clearly above all the rest.

The case in point--of recent date I've read a number of really interesting, good, fun books:The Thirteenth Tale and The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop among them--both of which in my system I would have given a 9 out of 10.

Problem is, along comes a book like The Road and all that's left is 10 out of 10, and that hardly seems adequate because it towers above these bon-bons as the Rockies do above the surrounding plains--or as China's karstic mountains do around the surrounding countryside. They don't exist in the same mode of being. So what does one do to emphasize the utter necessity, beauty, and power of The Road in comparison? Well, I'm doing it now. 10 out of 10 on the Tolstoy scale. Whereas Buzbee and Setterfield are 9 out of 10 on the Crichton-King scale. A different mode of existence. (And by the way most Crichton books rate about a 5 on the later scale, most of king somewhere in the 6-7).

And I do have to point out that my scale would probably be likened to geometric rather than arithmetic. So perhaps the 10 stands, understanding that the 10 is the exponent of an underlying positive integer greater than 1.

Nevertheless, this was just another clever (or perhaps not-so-clever) way of saying--read The Road--it's powerful and it's beautiful. Read it, please. Write to me and tell me how I need to say it so you'll try it. It isn't easy going, but it's a fast read and a powerful one. See what good, if idiosyncratic, prose can do.

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Steven, I've flirted on and off with stars or numbers or something for the books and movies that I read, watch and review on the blog, and I run into this same dilemma.

For example, Angela Thirkell's books are wonderful, lovely, thoroughly enjoyable and not a waste of time to read.

They are not, however, A Fine Balance or War and Peace or To Kill a Mockingbird. So how do I rate them? For what they are, for what they are intended to be, they are the best of the best. And to say "for what they are"--well, it sounds like I'm denigrating them. I'm not. I love them. I want them around me. I couldn't in a million years take the pain and angst of reading A Fine Balance or books like it, over and over.

So how to rate? Don't know. Can't make up my mind.

But I'm glad to read that I'm not the only one who's faced with the issue.

Who's this book by? There's a lot of books called The Road out there.

Dear Maureen,

Cormac McCarthy. This post was by way of expansion of a previous one. Sorry.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 26, 2006 9:16 AM.

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop was the previous entry in this blog.

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