Any surprises? Anything here you want to read but haven’t? Anything here you read but wish you didn’t. (Matt Bell has one that I know of!) [NOTE: I didn’t mean that I wish I hadn’t read Matt’s book. I am very happy to have read it. I meant he’s reading a book on this list and may or may not wish – see comments below – he wasn’t.] Do you care about prizes, or are they just dumb? A creative writing professor once told that the only people who really care about prizes are the other people who give out prizes, meaning: prizes neither reflect the “goodness” of the writing nor do they impact sales, etc., BUT one prize often leads to another prize leads to another prize, and on and on. [Full press release here.]
Jennifer Egan, A Visit From The Goon Squad, Knopf
Jonathan Franzen. Freedom. Farrar, Straus And Giroux.
David Grossman, To The End Of The Land. Knopf.
Hans Keilson.Comedy In A Minor Key. Farrar, Straus And Giroux
Paul Murray. Skippy Dies. Faber & Faber.
Here, you’ll find a panel discussion with some NBCC people on the “next ten years” of book publishing. Whereas the title of the panel misleads (you’d think the panelists would talk about book publishing but they end up talking more about being book reviewers/critics), it ends up being a fairly provocative discussion, one that both excited and angered me.
1. Mark Athitakis begins the panel quoting DFW’s new book. The web is a seemingly egalitarian space. It offers “everyone” a chance to publish and review. This model engenders a “grassroots” or bottom-up opportunity, for the “people” to decide what is “good” and ought to be read, as opposed to our top-down model now, with a handful of publishers dictating what gets mass distribution. DFW argues, however, that the web ultimately will offer us too many opportunities, and that before long, we’ll be asking for “gate-keepers” to tell us what is good and where to find it.
2. Colette Bancroft, books editor of the St. Petersburg Times, extends the DFW conversation by arguing that the web enables EVERYONE to be a critic and the heyday of the gate-keeper is slowly going away. I like this idea, though I’m not sure I buy it.
3. Scott McLemee of Inside Higher Ed gives a shout out to the “youngins.” Apparently, he knows some young people who read, unlike most of the other panelists there. In particular, he mentions The New Inquiry and Rumpus, which I don’t need to link because everyone here probably reads it.
March 23rd, 2010 / 1:31 pm
Hello everyone. Pappy Blake Butler has allowed me to talk out loud a bit, and for that I am grateful. I hope to not bug the hell out of everyone here at HTMLG.
I’ve gleaned a lot of booktalk from the internet in the past week or so, and I’ll present it here, all at once. To start: Over at the Vroman’s Bookstore blog, Patrick Brown discusses the National Book Critics Circle’s recommended reading list. Patrick says:
…their recommended list leaves a bit to be desired. It’s not that the books on the list aren’t good — they are — it’s that they’re, well, a little obvious. My friend Cory, blogger at Skylight Books in LA, pointed out that Philip Roth made the list. Looking at the fiction list, I feel a little like Jack Black’s character in High Fidelity, “Philip Roth? Not obvious. No, not obvious at all. Come on, NBCC, couldn’t you make it easier? What about Hemingway? How about William Shakespeare? Why not recommend Hamlet?” I don’t mean to hammer on Philip Roth, who I love, but come on. Does he really need the readers?