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Thursday, July 7, 2005
    Let's Hear It For Our Guests...

    You can tell when a litblog (yes, I know, but we appear to be stuck with it) has really made the scene these days: "Real writers" are dropping by more and more frequently to offer their own thoughts on literature and life. In some recent examples:

    • The Mumpsimus breaks from its science-fiction roots to host Paul Jessup's thoughts on A Complicated Kindness and Torger Vedeler's review of the erotic novella collection Three Kinds of Asking For It.

    • Daniel Olivas, a regular contributor to The Elegant Variation, dropped in to review Salvador Plascencia's The People of Paper, a McSweeney's book I've been meaning to read myself lately--and one NYTBR will be getting around to this weekend.

    • Kay Sexton is the latest guest reviewer at MoorishGirl, weighing in on Jonathan Coe's prize-winning biography of experimental writer B. S. Johnson, Like a Fiery Elephant.
    posted by ron @ Thursday, July 7, 2005 | Permanent link

Monday, July 4, 2005
    Talk About Your Lucky Breaks

    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...

    NOTE: This entry inaugurates a new policy, in which Beatrix will continue to feature "book review reviews," but they will also appear on Beatrice.com with additional material. For example, to see what I had to say about the Times review of Christine Schutt's short stories, follow this link. Posts won't be quite daily, but as I find my rhythm, there should be more than one a week; if you're reading Beatrice, though, you'll see them all there anyway.

    posted by ron @ Monday, July 4, 2005 | Permanent link

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About RON HOGAN
Ron Hogan is a freelance writer who reviews books and interviews writers for publications such as Publishers Weekly. He is also the author of an illustrated overview of American films from the 1970s called The Stewardess Is Flying the Plane, due out from Bulfinch Press in November 2005.


About BEATRIX
How did this season's hot books generate their heat? And why do other novels surrounded by buzz turn into duds? Beatrix, a subset of my longrunning literary blog Beatrice.com, openly speculated about these questions in the form of "book review reviews" from January to August of 2005.


Beatrice; or, Where It All Began
I first launched Beatrice.com in 1995 as a venue for author interviews. In late 2003, I switched over to a daily blog of news and commentary about books and authors. What you see here now is essentially one side of that blog's original makeup, the side that dealt with how books were received by the literary culture. The full blog contains not only these "book review reviews," but news items about various writers and original insights from the authors themselves in the form of interviews, blog excerpts, and guest articles.

www.beatrice.com

Write Me:
ron@beatrice.com



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RON'S REVIEWS

I'll Show You Mine
One of my regular gigs is as a freelance reviewer for Publishers Weekly. Although some people have a problem with anonymous reviews in PW, I'm all for them in general principle (though I think embargoes are a crock, but that's a different story)...anyway, I'd like to give any reveiwers who might be reading this the same opportunity to critique me, so I'll look into whether it's kosher for me to pull back the curtain. And I'll try to land some assignments with bylines, too. (In fact, if you're reading this, and you can assign book reviews...)

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