Thursday, June 14, 2007

Further to the the book review conversation

Our publicist forwarded us this really interesting article from The New York Sun on book reviewing.

Based on a quiz the author, a book critic, took, he realized that one of the fundamentally flawed attitudes about book reviewing is that it's an arrangement between an author and a reviewer, instead of between a reviewer and a reader. I think this is fascinating given my earlier post, and given the fact that no one who responded listed book reviews as a major source of book information in their life.

1 comment:

angelle said...

"As Ms. Prose said, such questions stem from 'a bogus idea about book reviewing' — the idea that a book review is like 'a peer review panel of the FDA.'"

AHAHAHAHA... oh god, I know THAT climate well. for a moment there, in the prior paragraph, i was like, wait, it's not unethical? then i thought about it and decided it wasn't unethical. then i read that line and i realized why i was so confused for a second. the article is absolutely right. there is no objectivity in this line.

"In fact, despite what the bloggers themselves believe, the future of literary culture does not lie with blogs — or at least, it shouldn't. The blog form, that miscellany of observations, opinions, and links, is not well-suited to writing about literature... Literary criticism is only worth having if it at least strives to be literary in its own right, with a scope, complexity, and authority that no blogger I know even wants to achieve. The only useful part of most book blogs, in fact, are the links to long-form essays and articles by professional writers, usually from print journals."

This is interesting to me. I agree that blogging shouldn't be the form that literary criticism should take, and that perhaps it shouldn't be the medium in which literary culture depends upon. Nonetheless, the web is there, the blog is there. People had add these days. They want their little bites of info, they don't have time to read long diatribes. And again, I guess, depending on the kind of book we're talking about here, the masses of people out there - not your intellectuals or academics or what-have-you - they're not reading reviews for "literary criticism". Like i said, I read reviews AFTER the fact, PRECISELY because I'm looking for that literary criticism, that exchange of knowledge, etc. But if I just want to know if I should buy a book or not? Probably not turning to the NYTimes to help me out. At least not the full-length of the article. Maybe just a quick skim to see if it's a yay or nay.