The mouse that roared

Recall that a critical book review (CBR) is an essa form, an piece of art in its own right. Its goal is to inspire, to teach, to motivate, to please the reader, as much as it is to talk about the book it's critiquing. Most of the time, a CBR uses the book review as a vehicle to talk about a larger or important issue or problem or idea.

However, for this two-week assignment, I want you to read it like a writer, which is a bit different. Rather than focusing on what the writer is saying, I want you to focus on how he constructs his argument, why he makes the choices he does, and what the end result or impact is. The single best way to learn how to write well is to read good writing, and reverse engineer it.

As you read, consider the following, and take notes on your thoughts as you read.

1. Before you begin, consider context:

Do you know the author’s purpose for this piece of writing? What is it, do you think?
Do you know who the intended audience is for this piece of writing? How do you know? How might this impact the writer's work?
After you've read the piece, you might want to come back to these two questions and see if you have changed your mind.
2. As you read, knowing my definition of a CBR that I've given you, how does the genre (the form) of a CBR affect the way the writer wrote this article?

If I were writing this, is this where I'd go with it? Why or why not?
How is the language the writer uses working — word choice, sentence structure, grammar and punctuation choices, etc.? How does it add to or impact the writer's goal or purpose?
What kinds of evidence does the writer use to support their claims? Why do they make the choices for evidence they do? What impact does the evidence have on their argument?
How do they integrate the evidence into their argument? Where does the evidence fall in their organization? Why did they choose to put the evidence where they did?
Identify passages that are exceptionally clear and impactful. How did the writer create those passages?
Conversely, identify passages that are unclear or difficult to parse. What might the writer have done differently. (Note: When a topic is new to us, we often think that the writing is "hard"; but sometimes, it's our own unfamiliarity with the topic or the arguments being made rather than bad writing. Can you see moments when you were reading that were hard because you were learning rather than because the writing was bad?)
How does the author move you (the reader) from one idea to the next (transitions)? How does the writer connect ideas together (cohesion)? How does the writer keep tying the ideas back to their main purpose or thesis so that the essay as a whole works together as a single unit (coherence)?
When does the writer talk about themselves (1st person); and when does the writer's voice move back to give the reader space to experience the ideas without the person intrusion of the writer? Why did the author make those choices?
Assignment:

Part 1. Read Jackson, Ball Don’t <link is hidden> the document and take notes about how Jackson constructed (wrote) his CBR. You may note as you go techinques or ideas that you might want to incorporate into your CBR later this semester; or you may be inspired about ways that you will want to approach your CBR differently. After reading this example of a CBR, how would you describe a critical book review in your own words? DUE DATE TBD.

Part 2. You should be about 75% of the way through your book by now, so I suggest in this very short preliminary paper, you may want to quote or talk about what you&#x27;ve been reading already, although you may not know exactly how the book is going to end up or what you&#x27;re own argument is going to be.

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