Sunday, May 20, 2007

Gee, where does this leave me ....

... Critical Mass of a Mess. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

I mean, one of the key reviews on The Inquirer's book page today is by Mark Sarvas ... who blogs at The Elegant Variation. Katie Haegele does a bi-weekly column for The Inquirer called DigitaLit, which today is about The 2007 Blooker Prize, which is "devoted to 'blooks' - books based on blogs or other websites." Oh, and I blog.
Of course, I'm also the book review editor of a metropolitan newspaper ... and I'm a member of the NBCC, whose president, John Freeman, also has a piece on today's book page, an interview with Steven Hall, author of The Raw Shark Texts, which I will link to as soon as it gets online.
Like Maxine, I find the comments Marydell quotes a bit over-the-top. Applying Shannon Byrne's metaphor to my own case, I guess one could say I am my very own parasite.
Really, folks, it's time to chill: Reading books and reading about them, writing about them, talking about them, arguing about them (in a civil manner, of course, because well-read people ought not to be boors), and yes, blogging about them - these are all good things, good for books, for readers, for civilized society.
And while I'm at it, I may as well commit the ultimate heresy: Some bloggers are better than some professional reviewers.

Postscript: I just saw this item on Bill Peschel's blog (scroll down to "I've Been Meaning to Comment ..."). Like Bill - and both as an editor and a reader - I have "
rarely cared about the reviewer’s opinion of the writer’s place in history, or anything that smacks of something you’d find on a college exam in American Literature."


  1. Anonymous12:41 PM

    Hear, hear Frank. Well said - all around.

  2. Anonymous12:54 PM

    I like the way that the PI book review section mixes reviews by people familiar with different media, Frank, and I also like it when an individual explores different media -- as you yourself do. I agree your book review section is a beacon.
    As I mentioned on the book blog, I think that blog book reviews are particularly good for niche topics (found by keyword searches by the reader) that might not get a look-in in the paper's sections; and also that blogs are good for reviews of old books, because by and large (but my no means always) newspaper sections focus on new books.
    I do agree, though, that there is room for all -- the beneficiaries are the readers, that's for sure.

  3. Frank, it leaves you as the smartest critic out there because you get it. The way to save newspaper reviews is not by bashing other mediums. Taking your recent thoughts on the Palahniuk reading, for example, your remarks show that the gears are turning on attracting a wider audience to reviews. Forward--as opposed to elitest--thinking is the most productive course of action.

    Although the NBCC has good intentions in saving book reviews, their methods thus far have been lacking. There are only so many insults one can take before losing all sympathy for their cause.