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Reviewing Catchall

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  Messages 419-418 deleted by author between 04-02-2007 07:53 PM and 10-06-2006 10:50 PM
BookninjaPerson was signed in when posted
11:31 AM ET (US)
LAT gets a Tan

Amy Tan to assume LAT Magazine literary editorship. (From Bookslut)

BookninjaPerson was signed in when posted
05:04 AM ET (US)
Can newspapers really use author photos?
My job is getting all too complicated these days.

Harris, who has shot for The New York Times, Time, and Newsweek, is suing the Knight Ridder owned newspaper for using one of his photographs in a book review.

The San Jose Mercury News filed a motion for summary judgment, which argued that taking copyrighted photographs to accompany book reviews is a common practice at other major newspapers and that the action was legal under the "fair use" defense.

BookninjaPerson was signed in when posted
05:43 PM ET (US)
The young man who had it all and threw it away?
The New Yorker on James Agee.

In “Famous Men,” Agee is not a political writer but a poetic and metaphysical writer, who wanted to honor reality, and also to abolish it. There is a trap built into his kind of intense receptivity. That a person or a thing is itself and nothing else, and is therefore worthy of notice and celebration, may be the beginning of morality, but it’s also the beginning of tragedy.

BookninjaPerson was signed in when posted
05:23 PM ET (US)
Strong opinions? Or cheap sensationalism?
Why are book reviewers getting meaner?

Newspapers and magazines may need to rethink their book coverage—including, as you say, both reviews of books with literary merit and the more commercially viable ones (two categories that do sometimes overlap). But I don't think the answer is to revert to promoting cat fights and name-calling.

Although Carlin Romano's attack on Dale Peck wildly overstated his case, Romano had a point when he took Peck to task for using such words as "crap" and "suck" in describing books. And is calling an author a "jackass" really very helpful? The coarseness and lack of nuance in the language used these days in many book reviews certainly is something to lament.

09:08 AM ET (US)
This really does seem myopic on the part of publishers. Personally, I say let my review copies circulate. And as a reviewer, what the hell am I supposed to do with the dozens of books I've accumulated and no longer want when, say, it comes time to move. I suppose I could put them on the kerb for the gulls, but why not sell 'em if the dealers'll take 'em?
BookninjaPerson was signed in when posted
04:27 PM ET (US)
More on the review copies battle
Galleycat shares some of her mail on the whole ARCs issue, including letters from writers who support ARCs being sold on eBay, etc.

Statistically it takes buzz at least eight weeks to build. But - other than bestsellers - a typical book is off the front bookstore shelves only two to four weeks after it's released and after the reviews have started to trickle in (if they come in at all) - which means word of mouth moves slower than booksellers and publishers want to deal with.
A healthy preselling of ARC is one way to get readers talking about a title a few months before it comes out.

BookninjaPerson was signed in when posted
05:15 PM ET (US)
Not for resale
Galleycat looks at the problem of review copies and advance reading copies winding up for sale on places like eBay. It's a problem all right. I can see why publishers don't want to send out book-like review material -- the used-book sites are being flooded with review copies, which cuts into legitimate sales. On the other hand, as a books-page editor I kind of need the real books, especially if I'm going to use them as a graphic element on the page (yeah, I know I can always request a JPEG file from the publisher, but that doesn't work so well when I'm putting together the page at 10 p.m. on a Friday night for the next issue). I'm not sure what the answer is, although numbering proofs, as William Morrow apparently did with Anansi Boys, may be an option. Maybe those green bound galleys, along with a CD of any relevant graphics? That would cover my needs. But not those big exercise-book type galleys. I hate those. I'd be interested in hearing other ideas. (For those publishers who wonder what happens to all those books that get sent to newspapers, the standard operating procedure is to have internal book sales once a year, with the profits given to some charitable cause such as women's shelters, books for tots, etc. We do have to clear the books out of the office, and it's too expensive for us to send them all back.)

BookninjaPerson was signed in when posted
09:49 AM ET (US)
The Daily Globe

The Globe and Mail is now running a weekday book column by John Allemang, god bless 'em for it. It's pretty hard to find online, but so is everything on their website which actually looks like a cross between a NASA computer terminal and refdesk.com.

BookninjaPerson was signed in when posted
01:07 PM ET (US)
Simon Armitage gives the skinny on his new play

I saw Armitage this year reading to a small cadre of poets and poet lurkers (I am the latter) at Nicholas Hoare in Toronto. He's the cutest Beatle that never was. Here he is interviewed and reviewed by a man who hated his last play.

[In]my review of the play I resorted to some pretty blunt rebukes: "gibberish" and "piffle" were two of the put-downs used. Ouch.

"That hurt," Armitage concedes, before shrugging with gentlemanly generosity: "You've got your job to do, I've got mine." If I'd been him, I'd probably have thumped me, but his long stint as a probation officer before becoming a full-time poet has no doubt left the 42-year-old with an aptitude for anger-management.

We need more humanity in our review scene on this side of the pond. I'd like to gather all my reviewers in a room and just, you know, chat.

Edited 11-08-2005 01:40 PM
BookninjaPerson was signed in when posted
05:11 PM ET (US)
Read this!
The Litblog Co-op has chosen Steve Stern's The Angel of Forgetfulness as its Autumn 2005 Read This selection. The Rake voted for Lance Olsen's 10:01 instead, which can be read online here.

BookninjaPerson was signed in when posted
11:46 AM ET (US)

Reviewer Terri Schlichenmeyer and her book addiction.

Because of a lack of time, Schlichenmeyer said it's been two years since she's read a book for pleasure.

She said her favorite book of all time is "Salvation on Sand Mountain" by Dennis Covington, a book about the holiness of snake handling.
Her favorite books this year are "The Color of Love" by Gene Cheek and "Hero Mamma" by Karen Zacharias.

She said she forgets the plot of most books she reads within two weeks of reading them because she reads so many books and it's hard to retain everything.

Edited 09-16-2005 11:52 AM
BookninjaPerson was signed in when posted
10:40 AM ET (US)
Poetry reviews

That is to say, reviews of poetry in Poetry.

The rules for our omnibus reviewers are simple. (We bend the rules occasionally for other pieces, when there is a pairing of reviewer and book we especially want—Phyllis Rose and Richard Wilbur, for instance.) They can have no personal connection to any of the authors they are writing about. They do not get to select the books to be reviewed, though we do discuss the list with them and try to make the assignment interesting for them. They are given a strict total word count, which they are free to distribute among the various books as they see fit (e.g., eight hundred words for one book, four hundred for another, etc.). And finally—most importantly—they must express a clear opinion about each book reviewed.

Just the mention of Richard Wilbur makes me weak in the knees. (From Bookslut)

11:22 PM ET (US)
Geez, do you think it's possible the Globe reviewers have certain ties?
11:02 PM ET (US)
And, at their root, reviews are not about encoding but decoding. Levin mentioned in an earlier column (the one in wihc he talked about books as his little paper friends) how loath he was to offend people.

If this doesn't disqualify him, and any reviewers sympathetic to his way of seeing the world, from being in the reviewing business, I really don't know what does.
01:24 PM ET (US)
Sure, fine, but what's revealed in this manner remains wrapped in mystery. A reasonably swift reader can tell that Solie's hiding something here, but what precisely and how much is anybody's guess. The result, as a piece of writing, is indeterminate and not a lot of fun to read. This kind of coded occlusion would be understandable in an oppressive regime...
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