Frank Wilson on the Michael Gorman brouhaha: “The point of all of this verbiage seems to be to disguise the main worry: that anyone can have access to the information, that gatekeepers are no longer able to keep the gates closed to those they deem unworthy of entrance. It still comes down to the experts know best. Well, read Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s the Black Swan: They don’t.” There’s also another factor motivating all this discussion. Since the print vs. online debate began, NYC & Company has been immersed in a veiled uproar. Prospective tourists with a literary bent have been seduced from Midtown hotels by the Magical Basement Tour, a considerably more affordable vacation package for a family of four, now being advertised by the Terre Haute Convention & Visitor Bureau. Never underestimate the correlation between a drop in niche tourism and those cultural gatekeepers who have a modest stake in dictating where people visit during the summer.
Julia Keller offers a provocative column in which she declares that it’s okay just to like books. I think it’s a mistake to conflate those who love books with those whose livelihoods don’t depend on the publishing industry. There are plenty of book lovers out there who have no interest in becoming a publishing professional, and Klein’s position strikes me as kind of a reverse snobbery. However, I do agree with Keller that appealing to “book likers” is something for every professional to consider, if only because “book likers” eventually might turn into “book lovers.” (via Kevin Smokler)
Joseph Duemer offers a few thoughts on why he abandons novels. The last novel I abandoned featured a plotline in which a bald thirtysomething narcissist, resembling a cross between Lex Luthor and Little Baby Huey, moved from San Francisco to New York. I simply wasn’t convinced that the author, who was more fond of tossing around strange and often deranged details rather than addressing his ideas or larger thematic points, really knew his protagonist and I found the narrative extremely unconvincing and quite absurd.
Maitresse: “In my opinion, it isn’t sufficient for people to only read easy books that reinforce their worldview, because only reading someone like Sophie Kinsella or Meg Cabot does nothing to elevate the general discourse. If everyone is just reading people who talk exactly like they do, people who have exactly the same ideas as they do, the culture will never move forward. They will remain mired in mediocrity.” There are more interesting thoughts on a wide range of subjects (including reading, the current state of criticism, and the possibilities of the Internet) here and here.
Likely Stories: “If I sound dismissive, it could be simple envy at work. No, I’m not envious that all these dads are in touch with their new role in life – I’m envious that they had the foresight to take notes.”