introducing readers to writers since 1995

October 02, 2004

Reinforcing the Accolades for My Peers

by Ron Hogan

If you've read the NYTBR literary website roundup, let me just repeat the praise handed out to Maud Newton and Identity Theory, both of which happen to have great new interviews. Maud, who the Times singles out for conducting "the kind of conversation that should happen more often in the book world," talks with Chris Lehmann in a new series of discussions of criticism with critics.

I think reviewers often overlook that readers have a pretty direct time investment (and a money one) in the judgments that critics tender. After all, reviewers always get galleys and review copies for free, and are compensated (albeit just barely) for the time they spend reviewing – and can easily lose sight of this. So in my rounds as a regular reviewer, I tried to keep near the front of my mind the sort of readers I used to recommend books to when I worked in bookstores: people with day jobs who are fighting all sorts of demands on their time to carve out enough of a margin of leisure to read on their own. If I tell them a book is worth 30 or so bucks and a far bigger chunk of time – the commodity you can never accrue more of – I had better in good conscience believe I’m right.

Meanwhile, Robert Birnbaum gets into it with Jonathan Ames, which may surprise folks who know him primarily through the recent Wodehouse-hommaging (it's a word if I say it is!) Wake Up, Sir! by beginning with a long segment on writing profiles of football players and Greenpeace activists...or, rather, not being able to write those profiles. But soon enough, Ames dishes insider info: "Some people might have read Hemingway and wanted to write action hunting scenes. I read Wodehouse, and I wanted to write these ludicrous small descriptions of the way a valet might move."


...he says forgetting (modestly) to add that his own was also included in said listing.

Congrats Ron, well deserved as well.


Posted by: Dan Wickett at October 3, 2004 01:54 PM

YES! Congrats Ron, I was just thrilled to see you in the NYT!!!! That's wonderful and well deserved.

Posted by: MJ Rose at October 3, 2004 05:22 PM
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