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What's That You're Reading?

Truth Partisan's picture

Since 2001, when Salon controversially covered The Incredible Vanishing Book Review--for which it had to provide room to correct its too dire assessment at that time--the decreasing space devoted to book reviews has been documented at newspapers all over the country.

In 2007, the LA Times ran The Folly of Downsizing Book Reviews, written by mystery author Mike Connelly, who talked about the importance of reviews to introduce new voices and wrote, "That (first book) review and others like it stimulated interest in what I had to say."

This past Friday, June 27, 2008, Rachel Deahl wrote in Publishers Weekly, this loss is upon us again. "For nearly eight years now book review sections have been steadily getting thinner or dropped altogether. In 2001 The San Francisco Chronicle downsized its book section; both The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Dallas Morning News lost their dedicated book editors...and, last year, both the Tribune and the L.A. Times dropped their standalone book sections...(Cuts have also happened at mid-size papers like the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Raleigh News & Observer.)"

Apparently the reason is financial. Deahl goes on, "In a 2006 story, PW noted that the New York Times Book Review is one of the only book sections in the country that's well supported by ads. In that piece San Francisco Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein offered this lament: "It gets harder and harder to justify something that has no ad support."

If that's not a call to act here at completely independent Correntewire, I don't know what is.

Personally I'm pro-book. I also support voluntary reading, and even writers, as long as they don't take things too far. Heh.

Be a Sunday morning book reviewer: what's on your bookshelf?

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scarshapedstar's picture
Submitted by scarshapedstar on

Re-reading the Illuminatus! trilogy for the fifth (there's that number again!)-or-so time.

I can't really describe it to the uninitiated except that it was probably the single biggest catalyst in my transformation from a chaste, teenaged Rush Limbaugh fan to a sex/drugs/rock'n'roll enthusiast. fnord! It's a literary acid trip that seems more and more relevant as years go by. A book that may change your life (indeed, it frequently mocks other "important" novels, namely Atlas Shrugged) and will give you thousands of inside jokes to bounce off anyone who's ever read it, like "never whistle while you're pissing..." (response: "...and don't ask questions while you're getting blown.")

Best book(s) ever. No, seriously.

This "review" was brought to you by the numbers 17 and 23.

But I still believe

And I will rise up with fists!!

Truth Partisan's picture
Submitted by Truth Partisan on

Scarshapedstar,
Wait, are you attempting to "subconsciously generate...a feeling of uneasiness and confusion, and prevent...rational consideration of the subject"??

'Made-you-what-you-are-today-and-can-transform-others-too' book review: nice.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

I just finished Gregory Maguire's Son of a Witch, the sequel to Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Which some of you may know also as a musical (which I've seen as well). Both the musical and Wicked were excellent and very topical pieces of social commentary about an Oz that is full of oppression and casual brutality and the life of a very flawed rebel through whose life a terrified Dorothy was only the very last chapter.

Son of a Witch follows after Dorothy's unintentional dispatching of the previous generation of Ozian powers---Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, her religious-fundamentalist/hypocrite sister Nessarose, the Wicked Witch of the East, and the horrifying unnamed Wizard of Oz. It follows the story of a young man named Liir who may or may not be Elphaba's son, spending his life looking for a girl who may or may not be his half-sister. It follows him as he meets a woman who may or may not become his wife. He may or may not be an enemy of the state. His chief antagonist may or may not be his uncle. He may or may not be a moral cretin and a coward.

A man, and a story, that's totally ambiguous, unlike Wicked, where Elphaba is a woman who is so sure of her moral purity that it destroys her. And behind everything, still the mysterious, menacing presence of Mother Yackle.

Because the story is a study in ambiguity, the story is necessarily rather unfocused, as the character himself searches for meaning in his own history. So this novel may or may not work, but I think the previous book was better. Still, it is a vividly described Oz, with many threads running through both novels, a lot of unfinished business still left over (the author plans two more, I believe---the next one is due in a few months and will be called A Lion Among Men). So it was definitely worth reading.

Amaliada's picture
Submitted by Amaliada on

I think readers' book reviews is a great idea; but make it easier to find. I have to say that I tend to read all of the blogs I follow through Google Reader as I'm too lazy (there I admitted it!) to go from website to website.

But it sure would be nice to have a weekly book review corner for Corrente's readers.

I'm currently reading Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire

Submitted by lambert on

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.