So sayeth NY Sun book critic Adam Kirsch. The article is called The Scorn of the Literary Blog (Thanks to galleycat for the link.)
What's sad is up until the blog stuff, Kirsch had some interesting things to say, examining book reviews, what they are, what they aren't, why people read them, what's going on with newspapers.
But then . . . well, here are some highlights:
"People who write about books on the Internet, and they are surprisingly numerous, do not call themselves reviewers, but bloggers." Call me anything just don't call me late for supper. As I've said before, blogs happen to be a way we publish online; don't confuse content with the format. This is one of the most silly things I've seen in a long time. Discuss amongst yourselves the truth of it; I think some bloggers (myself included) have danced away from the "r" word when when should embrace it. I REVIEW BOOKS. DEAL WITH IT.
"But book bloggers have also brought another, less salutary influence to bear on literary culture: a powerful resentment. Often isolated and inexperienced, usually longing to break into print themselves, bloggers — even the influential bloggers who are courted by publishers — tend to consider themselves disenfranchised." Isolated, inexperienced, longing to break into print, and disenfranchised. At least he didn't mention 18 cats in basement, right? For myself, I don't long to break into print; I long to make money so I'm not living in a cardboard box in 20 years. So, I look for ways to write and get paid, and, along with that, have things I want to talk about and do that here. But resentful of those who do write and get paid? No. Disenfranchised? No; rather I blog about books that are, frankly, the redheaded stepchild of newspapers and magazines; books that have not gotten the coverage and discussion they should and that readers, parents, teachers and librarians want.
"As a result, they are naturally ready to see ethical violations and conspiracies everywhere in the literary world. As anyone who reads literary blogs can attest, hell hath no fury like a blogger scorned. And the scorn is reciprocated: Professional writers usually assume that those who can, do, while those who can't, blog." Again, generalizations. And truly, in the kidlit world, we have been so free from the flamewars and trolls that go on other places, for which I am eternally grateful. If anything, it's the literary world who sees bloggers having ethical issues; and the "professionals" who have started this whole mess. I have yet to see a kidlit blogger bash a nonblog writer. (Link to it in the comments if you have!)
I don't want to cut and paste everything; but then Kirsch attacks the "blog form" as being incapable of creating a "literary review." It's like saying, oh, a graphic novel form is incapable of creating a Printz award book.
And the wonderful ending words: "But there's no chance that literary culture will thrive on the Internet until we recognize that the ethical and intellectual crotchets of the bloggers represent a dead end."
So, if I start posting in a different format, say a wiki, I can get lit review cred? I stop being a dead end when I learn how to code?
What great timing that Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray has started her Summer Blog Blast Tour. (Disclosure: I'll be blasting off with the blog tour myself, so more details to come!)
Edited to add:
Here is In For Questioning's take on the article. IFQ addresses some of the blog stuff, but also some of the assertions about what reviews are and aren't. Interesting stuff; because there are many reasons for reviewing books and for reading reviews. It's no one size fits all.
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