Thursday, September 26, 2013


Burying the Hatchet: The Death of the Negative Book Review

(illustration by Jordan Awan for The New Yorker)

I'm an editor at a micropress publisher (of POETRY, for god's sake), a huge supporter of my friends in the literary and visual arts, and a de facto agent for my wildly talented poet husband, so you would think I'm down, but I just can't play.

In a nutshell: I fear we are becoming a people who cannot take a punch, or give or receive criticism, or who are increasingly discouraged to practice intelligent discernment. Yeah, I rail against social media and the 140 character thought too, and lament what I think it is doing to us individually and culturally, but the hallowed book review shouldn't pander to the lowest common denominator, regardless of perceived bloodsport, or the possibility of the reviewed's death knell, or any comment on the self-worth of the author of the review.

Sorry for my obsession with this text at the mo', but I find it a bit micro-meta that the author mentions Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Sigh.

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Blogger saudade said...

there's a great piece in the Guardian today about Seymour Hersh and the fall of investigative journalism. quite apropos to this discussion!

"I'll tell you the solution, get rid of 90% of the editors that now exist and start promoting editors that you can't control," he says. I saw it in the New York Times, I see people who get promoted are the ones on the desk who are more amenable to the publisher and what the senior editors want and the trouble makers don't get promoted. Start promoting better people who look you in the eye and say 'I don't care what you say'."

September 27, 2013 at 10:18:00 AM PDT  

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