introducing readers to writers since 1995

March 31, 2005

This Is Why We Need Book Review Reviews

by Ron Hogan

Although I loved all the free publicity that came from being mentioned by Sarah Boxer in her NYT critic's notebook earlier this week, I was rather disappointed that she didn't address one of the most important reasons bloggers started reviewing book reviews. It's not because we wanted to get noticed--hell, if I wanted to attract attention, I can think of a lot better ways to do it than nitpicking Michiko Kakutani. It's because we've seen what's happened to book review sections in American newspapers and magazines in recent years--not only is the food so bad, as the saying goes, but the portions are so small--and we believe that books deserve better. (Of course, there are good reviewers, and we like to celebrate them, but bear with me for a second...)

A perfect case in point: Katie Roiphe shares cover space on today's Slate with an article accusing American book reviewers of "a certain gentle sexism" for not noticing that Ian McEwan's Saturday has a lot in common with Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway. Curious, I ran a Google search, proving to myself within seconds that Roiphe didn't know what she was talking about, because reviewers from New York to Detroit to Charlotte to rural Oregon all made the Woolf connection. The details are at Beatrix, because who else is going to call Roiphe on her glaring inaccuracies?

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