Don’t hate me for posting this
Posted June 12, 2007on:
UPDATE: I’d like to make something clear based on a couple of comments on this post. This prophet who came to warn us of the danger to litracha was Adam Kirsch, supposedly an excellent critic himself, who wrote for the New York Sun. I picked on Kakutani because she has the status of being the most influential and loathed critic this side of the Atlantic. Pardon me for not realising how challenging her to a duel before properly attributing the prophecy would have been confusing. I’m pretty sure Kakutani rarely, if ever, thinks about book blogs. I’d be surprised if she knew what one was. (This fits in to my fantastical image of her based primarily on Ed rants about how often she uses the word “limn”.)
You know I’ve dropped all pretense of taking this matter seriously. I’m in a good mood and I found this article hilarious because it (along with countless others) shows how backward these print people are.
My dear readers…
be prepared for…
THE SCORN OF THE LITERARY BLOG ! ! !
In one sense, the democratization of discourse about books is a good thing, and should lead to a widening of our intellectual horizons. The more people there are out there reading, making discoveries, and advocating for their favorite books, the better. 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.
Michiko Kakutani I hope you’ve been using your best fountain pen and Moleskin notebook because I’m comin’ to take your job, babe!
<—- That’s Kakutani
<— That’s me
It’s not hard to tell who’s going to win.
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.
Really? I feel as if I’m in the minority on this issue — most litbloggers that I know don’t seem to care much one way or the other. I, on the other hand, remember (vaguely, I admit, this being at the beginning of my interest in wider literary world) when a female critic was lambasted for giving a negative review to a book when it was “discovered” that she had some kind of negative history with the author. The fact that a close buddy of the author had given the novel high praised in another publication was widely ignored. (Of course the literati are above such petty motivations, everything is subjective, why strive for any standard?)
The blog form, that miscellany of observations, opinions, and links, is not well-suited to writing about literature, and it is no coincidence that there is no literary blogger with the audience and influence of the top political bloggers. For one thing, literature is not news the way politics is news — it doesn’t offer multiple events every day for the blogger to comment on. For another, bitesized commentary, which is all the blog form allows, is next to useless when it comes to talking about books.
Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. He thinks that something as important as politics is more suited to “bitesized commentary” than literature? Isn’t that part of the problem we’re facing now? Also, what century is he in? When he writes about blogs I step back in time to 1997. And am in a science fiction movie. Dinosaurs rule the earth and they don’t like a lot of information with breakfast, lunch or dinner so they’ve put a…I dunno forcefield around blog posts that limit human slaves to 500 characters.
This will be the last corner of the world left unconquered. It’s a sure bet that the print folks won’t be there. The dinosaur overlords will have had them chained to their desk typing out consumer report reviews on the latest Random House book, guaranteed.
Literary criticism is only worth having if it at least strives to be literary in its own right, with a scope, complexity, and authority that no blogger I know even wants to achieve. The only useful part of most book blogs, in fact, are the links to long-form essays and articles by professional writers, usually from print journals.
Pooter for life! (How many bloggers does he know and I wonder if he keeps them in cages for research purpose?) I am happy that at least one newspaper article writer acknowledges that literary criticism isn’t taking place in newspapers even if he believes we’re all yearning to write for The New York Sun or something.
This important announcement came courtesy of the happening folk at the GalleyCat.
That great picture of myself in warrior form was done by Iorek Vair for a RPG game at the Guild Wars Guru site. I don’t know who created that magnificent forcefield but if the artist wants to let me know, drop a line.