introducing readers to writers since 1995

July 04, 2005

NYTBR Hits The Relevancy Jackpot

by Ron Hogan

The NYTBR may have just used up its good luck quota for July by scheduling its review of Richard Davis' Electing Justice on the weekend Sandra Day O'Connor happened to announce her retirement. Blogger Ann Althouse politely but firmly rips Davis a new one, suggesting not only that there is no problem with how the Supreme Court justices get picked, but that he "only dimly envisions" an alternative without thinking through the ramifications.

It's a nice bit of timeliness that practically makes up for taking three months to review The Disappointment Artist and then taking three full paragraphs before mentioning the author...and even then, Brent Staples is reluctant to give up the spotlight: "I have walked these same sidewalks for 20 years and never encountered Jonathan Lethem on the street." The review ends with this supposition: "Perhaps he intends to use the vibrant Brooklyn village where he came of age in the next phase of his work." This after Staples quotes from The Fortress of Solitude and expresses some familiarity with the plot of Motherless Brooklyn...

Here's another bit of timeliness in this weekend's edition: After ignoring Christine Schutt's Florida until the novel was nominated for the National Book Award--at which point critics were rapidly deployed to explain why that lack of attention was justified--the Review doesn't waste any time getting around to A Day, a Night, Another Day, Summer. Then again, it's a half-page review that uses the "If you're going to..., you'd better..." argument as both opener and closer and seems to treat dealing with the stories as a necessary chore; it might be a positive review, but it's hard to tell through all the posturing.

NOTE: As of this post, I've brought "book review reviewing" back into the fold. Although my ArtsJournal blog, Beatrix, will continue to feature that material, it will be excerpted from the posts made to this blog.
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