Style refers to how an author relates content through writing. This is an important aspect of a book to review. While initially reading the book, and in any subsequent reads, a reviewer should mark passages of particular resonance and reflection of the author's style. These passages help the reviewer form ideas as to whether or not the style is effective in conveying content, and pleasing to the reader. One or more of these passages may be cited within the review itself in order to both exemplify the author's style and provide basis for the reviewer's response.
The following is excerpted from Wendy Rawlings' discussion of John D'Agata's poetic, associative essay-writing style in Halls of Fame: "Juxtaposing so many voices and kinds of language . . . can allow the reader to create exciting associative links between texts and ideas, but it can also, when overused, begin to feel somewhat arbitrary. In the book's title essay, for instance, single sentences and sentence fragments form choppy narratives composed of statements that seem, at times, cruelly separated from each other by the portentous silence of white space. This narrative strategy prevails throughout most of the twenty-four sections of the essay, and as a result, the sentences take on a stilted self-importance, like a poem written by someone as yet unschooled in enjambment." A passage from the essay follows this description.
When responding to a literary work, consider these aspects of style:
Tone, or narrative vein.
- Logical and reasoned (objective), or imagined and emotional (subjective).
- Dramatic and gripping, or pedestrian and level.
- Epic and far-reaching, or lyrical and infused with personal poetic emotion.
- Solemn and serious, or comic and entertaining.
- Spiritual or vulgar or both.
- Formal, or familiar, informal.
- Simple, or complex.
- Broad, or specific.
- Abstract, or concrete.
- Direct, or implicational.
- Figurative, or literal.
- Use of detail, sense appeal-the look, sound, smell, taste, feel.
- Balance, parallelism, and contrast of exposition, scene, and dialogue.
- Allusions, quotations, aphorisms, etc.
Fitness of style and tone.
- To the subject.
- To the purpose of the author.
- To the reader.