Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press

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This is too funny, Dan - my item this morning admonishing folks to keep their "book within" inside of them was written before I stopped by here.

You and the Globe article do touch on something I've felt rather keenly over the last few years, the decline in the desire to read. I think I've mentioned this to you before, but I think that our challenge as litbloggers has to do with bringing new eyes to serious fiction. Presently, as fine a job as we seem to be doing, we're preaching to a choir, to an audience that is already interested in what we're discussing. My impulses these days are to figure out how to bring those non-readers or casual readers into the fold, and to show them that something of real value awaits them between the covers.

But then we hit up against your most disturbing point - with which I agree - about the inability of a potential audience to be able to read and understand serious work. And that's where I start to putter and run out of steam - because short of sending them all back to school (which isn't necessarily a good thing either), I'm not sure how to change that.

Don't mean to seem so bleak this morning; I'm only in my first pot of coffee.

R. A.  Rubin

Err, so my unfinished novel, "Blondes of Wisconsin" loosely based on the people I remember from my college days in the 60's and my own ehh life has no value as liter-a-ture, then the Hemingway's and F. Scott Fitzgerald's were fools.


"Most best-sellers are written to be movies in the first place, and I think that eventually they'll just be movies."

Except that the number of movies released each year is *far* less than the number of even best-selling novels released. Because of the enormous costs involved in making and releasing a film, and therefore the relatively few movies that get released each year, I don't think they will (or can) take the place of best-seller, popular fiction--though, as you say, they seem to fill the same function.

What is true, I think, it that most popular-aiming books are written with a "movie-deal" in mind. So they are potential movies, however, most will never become movies.

Kevin Holtsberry

I think a libertarian, if I may use that term, view of culture is also involved. If everything is simply a lifestyle choice, if there are no standards for quality or seriousness, then mass culture simply means more and more entertainment choices with less and less literature.

I agree that lit bloggers could be a positive influence in this regard. I would like to see more explanantion of what is good and why. Perhaps the accessability and casual nature of blogging would allow those passionate about the subject to promote quality books and thus cut through the fog of information overload. They could use their knowledge and skills to communicate to non-literary types why literature matters and recommend a place to dive in.

More in a posting later . . .


I think that people can be led from easier (more commercial, plot-driven)books into more serious fiction, and that enjoyment of the reading of ANY book is likely to lead to the reading of more books rather than fewer. You can beat up Stephen King or Dan Brown or Oprah, but I think their net influence has been to get more people reading more books rather than drawing the few readers there are into less-than-serious reading and more movie or TV watching. Certainly not every Da Vinci Code reader will be led from that into Umberto Eco, or Robbe-Grillet, but some will (or to The Dante Club and from there to Dante....).

And the profits from those books do give the publisher/conglomerates some money to buy other books and other types of books (I say this as the author of literary novel published by Doubleday--I sent Dan Brown a thank-you note because I'm sure that his success contributed to their ability to buy little books like mine).

That doesn't make the market for small publishers or works in translation much more welcoming, nor does it necessarily make the audience for difficult books, but it does gentle the slope for readers--it gets people in bookstores looking for books to read, talking about reading books--maybe gets a book club or two started. I think many more people like the idea of liking reading than do spend significant time reading, and that the role of the internet can be in drawing them into works they might like and connecting them to other readers in the same rough range--from Tom Clancy to Neuromancer?

Daniel Green

I might agree that "enjoyment of the reading of ANY book is likely to lead to the reading of more books rather than fewer." But I don't believe that this will lead to the reading of serious books if the book enjoyed is trash. It will lead to reading more trash. It's often said that readers can be led from "easy books" to serious fiction, but I've rarely seen it happen. As a college literature teacher, I tried.

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