Mr. Warmth

In the New Republic, James Wolcott weighs in on Gail Pool's Faint Praise and the parlous state of book reviewing and -- as is characteristic of Mr. Wolcott -- complains that the book really needs to sound a lot more like Mr. Wolcott. Make yourself at home, dear, insult somebody.

Nonetheless, much of what he says has a great deal of merit, although he mostly echoes and expands on Ms. Pool's observations with his usual talent for sharp wordplay. On this point, however, he misses a big factor:

"The blog form, that miscellany of observations, opinions, and links, is not well-suited to writing about literature, and it is no coincidence that there is no literary blogger with the audience and influence of the top political bloggers. For one thing, literature is not news the way politics is news--it doesn't offer multiple events every day for the blogger to comment on."

And for another thing, many political blogs are essentially fronts, bankrolled by partisan forces. In short, politics is news because big money and influence are involved. As a result, as much as Mr. Wolcott dismisses literary blogging as a "fraggy clusterfuck of hidden agendas, free-floating animosity, and arbitrary verdicts," it's a sleepy kindergarten playroom compared to what passes for discourse on political blogs.

But then, that's what Mr. Wolcott wants from Faint Praise, isn't it? More fraggy clusterfucking and free-floating animosity.

Or rather, not so much "free-floating." Mr. Wolcott always likes to keep the animosity personal.

December 4, 2007 10:53 AM |



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