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A Book Review Review

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


BEATRIX archives

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.

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.


Write Me:

(syndicate this AJblog)


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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A Sampling of Book Blogs

Book Angst 101
Conversational Reading
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Literary Saloon
Maud Newton
The Millions
Moby Lives
Moorish Girl
Old Hag
Rake's Progress
The Reading Experience
Sarah Weinman
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  Pixel Points
    Nancy Levinson on
  About Last Night
    Terry Teachout on the arts in
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  Artful Manager
    Andrew Taylor on the 
    business of Arts & Culture
  blog riley  
    rock culture approximately
  Straight Up |
    Jan Herman - Arts, Media &
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  Seeing Things
    Tobi Tobias on dance et al...
  Serious Popcorn
    Martha Bayles on Film...

    Drew McManus on orchestra


    Greg Sandow on the future of
    Classical Music
    Doug Ramsey on Jazz
    and other matters...
    Kyle Gann on music after the
Visual Arts
    John Perreault's 
    art diary
  Modern Art Notes
    Tyler Green's modern & 
    contemporary art blog

AJBlog Heaven
    A Book Review review
  Critical Conversation II
    Classical Music Critics
    on the future of music
  Tommy T
    Tommy Tompkins'
    extreme measures

  Midori in Asia
    Conversations from the road
    June 22-July 3, 2005

  A better case for the Arts?
    A public conversation
  Critical Conversation
    Classical Music Critics on the 
    Future of Music
  Sticks & Stones
    James S. Russell on
   In Media Res
    Bob Goldfarb on Media
    Sam Bergman on tour with 
   the Minnesota Orchestra

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