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Referring to an author

June 19, 2021

Writing about Caroline Bird’s The Air Year, I realised I don’t know how to refer to the author in a review:

  • Should it be surname, as if I was writing an academic treatise? ‘Bird has a way with language’. That feels a little stuffy to me.
  • But then the other option, using the first name, is a bit too familiar, suggesting a friendship that I haven’t earned. ‘Caroline is a sucker for a good image’. In this case, I *think* I have friends in common with her, going by the names on the book jacket, but it would be creepy to make out there’s any connection there, because there isn’t. She wouldn’t know me if she passed me on the street. And using the first name makes it sound like there’s no dispassion there, as if I’m wrapped up in the personality of the author, and I can’t make an independent judgement.
  • The other extreme, to refer to ‘the author’ throughout, would just make me look ditzy, as if I couldn’t remember who I was writing about.

(Looking back on the few reviews of my writing over the years, I was just glad they were talking about my book and saying nice things about it).

It makes me wonder about the nature of writing about books on here. They are too idiosyncratic to be proper reviews, a little bit too long form to be quick notes. Ah well, who cares. It’s nice to write a little bit about books I’ve enjoyed reading. And I’m going to keep on doing it because it’s fun.

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