From today’s edition of The Leonard Lopate Show (“Why Are Book Reviews Disappearing?”), roughly around the 33 minute mark:
Lopate: Is this a growing area? And are people who really care about books going [to literary blogs] to learn about books?
Freeman: To a degree, yes. But it’s all for the presorted. So if you want to read about books, if you want to read about a certain book, you can go to a specific kind of blog or a specific kind of online news site and find coverage there, tailor-made to your sort of ideological or stylistic preferation [sic], uh, preferences. But I think it gets away from the idea of putting as many readers under the same tent as possible and getting them all to participate in the same conversation. So I think if blogs have done anything, a few of them have very cleverly and creatively used new technology in ways that newspapers haven’t yet. But they could certainly start to borrow from and use that to re-energize their website. The New York Times has done it by having a podcast.
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In other words, John Freeman, the man who publicly declared, “I have never been more embarrassed by a choice than I have been with Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept. It’s hyperventilated rhetoric tips from actual critique into Islamophobia,” is telling us that blogs are for “the presorted,” that newspapers should pretty much steal all of the hard work that litbloggers have innovated in to carry on.
Meanwhile, John Freeman has mobilized his action using an online petition and by using online conduits to champion for print reviews.
It sounds to me like John Freeman isn’t so much fighting for ongoing literary coverage in newspapers, as he is using the NBCC as a bully pulpit to drown out all voices contrary to his own. (Meanwhile, this “presorted” blog, which covers a variegated array of topics, leaves comments open to everyone in order to facilitate discussion and it continues to maintain the position, without waffling, that literary coverage in all forms must be championed and preserved.)
No word yet on whether Freeman avoids basements in Terre Haute, but given that he considers Pittsburgh to be part of “fly-over America” (when it’s merely an eight hour drive from New York), I’d say the answer’s leaning towards an unequivocal yes.
© 2007, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.