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« Still Inside That Book | Main | New Review »

01/27/2019

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Edward Champion

As someone who caught the tail end of the "good ol' days," in which I was (at one point) kneecapped to a mere 350 words per title for a paid review, I think Ms. Schwartz's priorities are entirely skewered. Thanks to the Internet, my Modern Library essays have allowed me the freedom to write and deeply research titles that would never get this kind of attention outside of the LRB or the NYRB (and even then, the "greatest hits," many of which have been ignored altogether, would only get assigned if these longform outlets were feeling especially generous). I've managed to answer some deeply geeky questions that would probably never have been pursued (such as the identity of the reviewer who called INVISIBLE MAN "a literary race riot," a question that, until I became curious, was unanswered for decades). Intellectual rigor and off-kilter writing style, even before the Internet, was never the secret ingredient to financial lucre. And anybody who seriously believes this and upholds this as some halcyon truth is a fool.

Lisa Hill

Yes, spot on.
Quite apart from anything else, there are now niche review sites covering not just translated fiction, classics and backlists, but also the literature that was previously always swamped by US and UK publications. My LitBlog focusses mainly on Australian and New Zealand literature; I read others that review Canadian Lit, or Women's Fiction; PoC; and the vast variety of books published on the African continent that had next to no coverage in the print media.
As you say, 'anyone who thinks the shuttering of newspaper book reviews has diminished the availability of informed criticism devoted to the purposeful consideration of books and literature just doesn't know where to look". And it's not hard to find: the worthwhile reviews aren't found at online booksellers or social media, and Google mostly ignores us because they'd rather promote commercial sites - but we all read each other and all of us provide a blogroll of other reviewers providing 'purposeful criticism'.

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