Thankfully, I’m not the only person using his blog for an NBCC Board Member campaign. Scott McLemee has also announced his candidacy. Mr. McLemee has some solid thoughts on the digital divide and, as a fellow candidate, I wish him well in his campaign and likewise offer my endorsement, however crabwise the gesture may be.
In light of Mr. McLemee’s evocation of Wilfred Sheed, however, I’d like to continue my campaign by quoting from Elizabeth Hardwick’s “The Decline of Book Reviewing,” written for Harper’s in 1959:
Invariably right opinion is not the only judge of a critic’s powers, although a taste that goes wrong frequently is only allowed to the greatest minds! In any case, it all depends upon who is right and who is wrong. The communication of the delight and importance of books, ideas, cultures itself, is the very least one would expect from a journal devoted to reviewing of new and old works. Beyond that beginning, the interest of the mind of the individual reader is everything. Book reviewing is a form of writing….It does matter what an unusual mind, capable of presenting fresh ideas in a vivid and original and interesting manner, thinks of books as they appear. For sheer information, a somewhat expanded publisher’s list would do just as well as a good many of the reviews that appear weekly.
Hardwick’s complaints from nearly half a century ago are just as applicable today. And as NBCC Board Member, I will do everything in my power to ensure that the delight and importance of books is celebrated and encouraged among the constituency.