Category:Slapdash Reviews

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What are Slapdash Reviews?

Slapdash Reviews (in Slovak, “ledabolé recenzie”) is a new genre of literary, film, music, art (etc.) criticism, founded by Faterson for the purposes of this site.

This form of literary, film, etc. criticism consists in jotting down (or voice-recording), immediately (if possible!) upon having finished (or even while!) reading a book, watching a movie, etc., one's impressions from the book, movie, etc.

This is done completely informally by a person who can type very fast on a computer keyboard – the person should be able to touch-type; that's a basic requirement for anyone who would prefer to compose a slapdash review in 5 minutes, instead of needlessly losing increased precious time over it. (For review writers in Slovak language, the usage of the alternative Slovak keyboard layout developed by Faterson is highly recommended.)

Yes, 5 minutes is the target value: the aim is to spend at least 5 minutes jotting down your impressions (if you need more minutes, by all means go ahead), preferably as soon as you've finished reading a book, watching a movie, and so on. As opposed to writing a slapdash review, I only rate each book or film on the day following the day when I finish them. I find that one has to sleep on it to provide a rating that is as free from bias as possible. But impressions? There is no second to lose jotting them down; in fact, if you can jot down your informal impressions while still in the midst of reading a book, watching a movie, etc., that will be most helpful for composing an insightful slapdash review right after you're done with the book or movie.

Now, you might think that "slapdash" is a derogative term. Yes, normally it is. Not here, though: it's a factual description of the nature of the review as it's being composed. If anyone pays you for the reviews you write – yes, then you might wish to spend more of your time polishing the prose in your reviews, getting rid of the "slapdash" epithet. Otherwise, the fleeting time of life is just too precious for that; unless you're a millionaire, that is (in terms of both money and free time on your hands).

The goal of Slapdash Reviews

The goal of a slapdash review is, immediately (if possible!) upon having finished (or even while) reading a book, watching a film, etc., to spend at least 5 minutes, touch-typing, jotting down (or voice-recording) spontaneously your impressions from the book, movie, etc., in an informal fashion.

Don't try to write perfect sentences. Do the best you can; try to be as elegant as you can; but it's unlikely for you to attain stylistic perfection within the 5 minutes typically allotted for a slapdash review. Don't censor your own impressions; don't try to be politically correct in what you jot down. Freely and spontaneously jot down whatever your impressions are from a particular book, movie, musical album, theatrical performance, art exhibition, etc.

5 minutes is the goal for you. You must spend at least 5 minutes touch-typing (which is not the same as "hunt and peck"), recording your impressions from what you've just experienced. Even if you believe you have nothing to report, because what you've just experienced was absolutely boring, unremarkable, disgusting or forgettable – you still are required to spend at least 5 minutes, touch-typing, recording your impressions.

However, 5 minutes is only the minimal goal Excl.gif It's perfectly acceptable for you to spend 30, 60, 180 (whatever...) minutes composing a review that was originally intended to be just a 5-minute slapdash review. In other words, 5 minutes is your minimal goal, but in no way is this an upper limit that you are required to observe.

At the same time, 5 minutes is a reasonable goal; remember, you're most likely not getting paid for that review you're writing; so, why bother wasting more than 5 minutes of the precious time of your life for composing the review? Anyone should be able to express, within 5 minutes, his or her recommendation (or the lack of it) for a particular work of art. Remember that the goal of a slapdash review is not for you to shine – the goal is for you to help others make an informed, wise decision as to the works of art they will agree to spend time with.

Rating books, movies, etc., is useful

It's also useful to rate each book, film, etc., upon having read, watched it, etc. On this site, the American rating on the scale of A+ (= best) to F- (= worst) is employed. However: unlike the slapdash review itself, the rating attached to it is only supplemented on the following day after the review was written. In other words, it's useful to “sleep on it” before any work of art is rated – this is different from the slapdash review itself that should (ideally!) be written as soon as one has finished reading the book or watching the movie; while the impressions are still very much fresh in the reader's, viewer's, or listener's mind Excl.gif

There is an oft-repeated objection against rating works of art. Some folks say, "You can't rate art – you can only enjoy it (or not)."

I strongly disagree. People who are willing to indiscriminately consume any works of art that come their way, must be pitied. Life flies fast. If you do not wisely choose the works of art to which you will devote the precious and irretrievable time of your life – then the inevitable result will be that you will die before getting to enjoy some of the greatest works of art ever created.

Some people might shrug that off: "So what?" For people, however, who care about art, about its quality, being able to choose wisely the works of art that one is willing to consume, is essential.

And to facilitate that wise choice, nothing is more useful than ratings. They, too, are therefore essential. If you rate the works of art you consume, that is how you may help others avoid bad or mediocre works of art (and the crushing majority of works of art, regardless of the era in which they were created, is bad or mediocre). Your own ratings will help others choose wisely; your ratings will help them make better use of the precious time of their lives. Hey, can there be a nobler endeavour? Cool.gif

A rating is not "just a number" or "just a letter". That is one of the most frequent misconceptions about ratings. In reality, behind every letter (or number of stars), there is the essential value judgment that it is always possible to rephrase in words. If I rate a work of art an A, it is a work of genius. B is superb; C is good; D is mediocre; E is poor; and finally, F is trash. Being able to distinguish between what is immortal, superb, good, mediocre, poor, and worthless – why, nothing could be more important or useful for anyone interested in art and, at the same time, aware of how fast time flies (and your death approaches).

My contention is that we should only devote our time to works of art with an A or B rating: that is, only to immortal or superb works of art. You can safely ignore all the other works of art – and yes, that includes all those works of art that are merely good or even "merely" very good. Wink.gif There are mountains of art (and generally, "stuff") in this world that is "very good"; but that's not enough; in order to enjoy art's full potential, art we spend time with should always be superb (or better)! Smile.gif

Avoiding the consumption of works of art that are less than superb is not easy, however. In fact, it's impossible. The consensus of critics – and doubly so that of the general audience – means nothing. It's happened countless times to me that works of art widely, enthusiastically praised by others (both experts and lay persons, intellectuals and "ordinary folks"), upon which numerous accolades and awards have been showered from all sorts of quarters, turned out to be massive disappointments for me. And such disappointments can never be completely avoided. Each of us is different, after all (there's unlikely to be a single work of art that appeals to absolutely everyone). The goal of ratings, however, is to help ensure that the number of such disappointments (and, therefore, the waste of the precious time of our lives) is kept to a minimum.

Let's be unpolished!

It's even permissible (and frequently enlightening) to jot down (or record in a voice memo app like DropVox or Netmemo Plus) your impressions during, in the midst of reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to a musical album – for example, you may easily pause the playback of a movie if you happen to be watching it on your own on a tablet. Such impromptu notes might, for instance, be captured in a plain-text file (ideally on a hand-held device) in the form of bullets and keywords, to be expanded into full sentences for the slapdash review after one has finished reading the book, watching the movie, listening to the musical album, etc.

Nevertheless, it would be a bad idea to try to write perfect, polished sentences for a slapdash review. Oh, no Excl.gif There simply isn't time for that; 5 minutes is a very brief time span. So, for a slapdash review, the first draft of complete sentences must (if need be) suffice; there will perhaps (or even typically) be no time for revisions of what you write.

That is, not on the same day when you first compose the slapdash review! There is all the time you need afterwards (days, weeks, or even years later). You may use any day from the rest of your life to bring the original slapdash review into a polished form: for example, by subdividing it into logical paragraphs; by re-organizing the sequence of ideas contained in the review (“shuffling them around”), so that they follow in a logical sequence; and by improving the text's diction and syntax, increasing their precision.

But, life flies fast. Perhaps you'll never get around to doing that. However, if someone offered you payment for such a polished, professional review, what more could you ask for Question.gif On the other hand, unless there is a strong motivation of a similar kind for you to revise the review to make it look professional – just be content to leave it as it is, in the original form as written in the first 5+ minutes just after you've completed reading the book or watching the movie.

Because it's not the polished, professional nature of a review that matters. No, it's the record of your spontaneous response, natural reaction to a work of art – this tends to be unique for each reader, viewer, and listener; that's why it's crucial to record your very own impressions, in as spontaneous, direct, straightforward, and immediate form as possible, as early as you can make it after finishing the “consumption” of a work of art.

Links to all of my slapdash reviews are summarised below on this webpage. It should be obvious to the reader which of the slapdash reviews are currently published in their original, unpolished form, and which of them are already revised, re-organised, improved versions of the original slapdash reviews. Each slapdash review has a date-stamp attached, specifying when its original, unpolished first version was written. If relevant and feasible, I'm attaching additional date-stamps to those slapdash reviews that were substantially reworked, improved or expanded at a later time (which makes them not so "slapdash" any longer). Wink.gif

In fact, it may happen that if you experience the same work of art twice (or more times) in a long time span (such as a decade, or several decades), your reaction to that same work of art may not only be slightly, but totally different each time. The work of art does not change – but you, the reviewer, definitely are changing and developing all the time (progressing rather than regressing, it must be hoped). You may have hated a book when you first read it (when you were perhaps forced to read it in school) as a young person, but you may learn to appreciate the same book once you're more mature. Or vice versa: some books and movies and music and fashion we loved as teenagers may seem silly to us later on. Perhaps, but perhaps not – this is completely unpredictable for any single individual. In cases of (self-)contradictory feedback to a particular work of art (especially after re-reading it, re-watching it, etc.), it may no longer make sense to modify or "polish" your original slapdash review; instead, just go ahead and write a completely new slapdash review, capturing your current feedback to that work of art. And so, a single work of art may not only have many contradictory slapdash reviews attached to it that were written by various reviewers... but there might even be several (self-)contradictory slapdash reviews of it written by the same reviewer. Smile.gif Self-contradictions, especially over long time spans, are perfectly OK – the only thing that matters in composing slapdash reviews, is sincerity.

Post your own Slapdash Reviews

Enjoy reading these slapdash reviews, and most of all, feel free to contribute your own slapdash review of any work of literature, film, music, theatre, art, (etc.) – to this site or, indeed (as I've been doing lately), to Amazon, Goodreads, IMDb and similar sites. If you wish, you can simply set up a new webpage on this site for any work of art for which you'd like to compose a slapdash review. Setting up a new webpage on this site is easy and only takes about 3 seconds: just enter the desired name of the new webpage in the search field in the left-hand column, and press the Go button; then, click the red link that says, create this page; and off you go: you can now enter the content of your new webpage. If you need more help, just send an email to the site owner at, and I'll be happy to assist you.

If a webpage for a particular work of art already exists on this site, simply click the edit tab at the top of that existing webpage, and insert the text of your own slapdash review. (A single webpage on this site can contain many various slapdash reviews of the same work by various reviewers – and if these reviews disagree among each other, so much the better Excl.gif At least there will be a lot to talk about in this site's associated discussion forum.)

Shortcut addresses of this webpage

Shortcut addresses of this webpage are:

The rationale for the last two shortcuts is that I originally used to call my slapdash reviews "5-minute reviews", obviously based on the reasonings above.

Slapdash Reviews posted elsewhere

Some book and film slapdash reviews were posted directly to these wiki webpages in the early days of this site (see the links at the bottom of this page). Later, though, I typically started only posting them to Amazon and/or Goodreads (my book slapdash reviews) and IMDb (my film slapdash reviews). For this reason, please also visit those two external links if you'd like to get an overview of all of my slapdash reviews.

Another way to access all of my slapdash reviews is by going to my Books Read or Films Watched webpage and clicking the various book or film titles listed there along with their ratings and dates read/watched.