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November 19, 2004

Come, Son of Jor-El, Kneel Before Blog

by Ron Hogan

I just got back a few hours ago from a Women's National Book Association panel on "the rise and resonance of literary blogging" where Maud and Sarah got together with Wendy McClure to represent the litblogging side of things, while Michael Cader of Publishers Marketplace provided insight into the journalistic angle and Technorati VP Adam Hertz discussed the technical side of things and the broader sociological aspects. Remember, we're not here to replace traditional journalists and book critics, we're only here to offer another perspective on literature and the publishing industry; if you happen over time to find us more entertaining and/or more trustworthy (which is to say, perhaps, more transparent in our agendas) than the people writing about these issues in print media, you have our gratitude.

Terry Teachout is a blogger, too, but he happens to be more famous--for now, anyway--as a cultural critic for various newspapers and as an author of quite excellent biographies. The other night, he was at Barnes & Noble to talk about his new short biography of George Balanchine, All in the Dances, alongside Robert Gottlieb, whose George Balanchine: The Ballet Maker has come out almost simultaneously--they joked that by the time they each found out what the other was doing, it was too late to back out. Robert Greskovic, the author of Ballet 101, asked them questions that were just leading enough to get the conversational juices flowing, from which we learned that Terry "imagined this book for somebody who has seen his first Balanchine dance last night or is about to go," an art-savvy reader who just doesn't happen to know much about dance yet. Gottlieb was thrilled by Terry's critical passages, while Terry appreciated the insights that came from Gottlieb's long connection to the New York City Ballet--which, Gottlieb said frankly, "has ceased dancing Balanchine well" under the leadership of Peter Martin. "I still have a fondness for Peter," he allowed, "but I think he has destroyed the Balanchine repetoire." To which there was much murmuring among the dancers and ballet fans (and critics) sprinkled throughout the audience.

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