Following on the heels of the recent Book Review Backlash, it seems that the realm of the argument has breached the blogosphere and (somewhat) entered the mainstream. I’m referring to to a recent Time magazine essay by book critic Lev Grossman called My Mortal Enemy, in which Lev talks back to blogger Edward Champion who apparently has been vocal about disliking Lev’s reviews. Says Lev:
I want to be clear: I don’t think Ed Champion is an idiot. I’ve read some of the other, non–Lev Grossman-related posts on his blog (which is mostly about books), and have found them to be highly opinionated but otherwise cogent and well-informed, and sometimes even charming. Ed Champion is not insane. He’s just unswervingly committed to the position that I am a complete tool.
I know, I know, I should toughen up. Blogging is a knockabout sport, and as a writer I’m fair game. You’d think I could just ignore Ed Champion (you can find him at edrants.com yeah, go ahead, don’t all click at once) and most of the time I do. But it’s harder than you’d think. Blogs reach a big audience. People read him. People link to him. Google frickin’ loves Ed. Not long ago I set up a website of my own, and despite the fact that it’s my website, and it deals with nothing but Lev Grossman, and it’s located at levgrossman.com Ed’s website still comes up ahead of mine half the time.
It’s nice to see a magazine acknowledging the blogosphere, but for Lev, his life is “increasingly being invaded by these people”. Lev’s position on blogging:
It’s one of the singular features of our little social-technological moment that people all over the world whom we otherwise would never even be aware of can effortlessly impinge upon our minds and lives and desktops. We probably see fewer people in person these days, but our lives are populated by an entire chorus of disembodied presences, amplified and directed by the Internet, as if we had all begun to suffer from a mild form of schizophrenia. Everybody talks a little louder now. There’s a little less mental elbow room.
Getting back to book reviews, Lev said this week in a Critical Mass interview:
At the risk — nay, certainty — of sounding kind of snobbish, I wish book sections in general would leave book-reviewing to the pros. There’s a pervasive notion that anybody who can read can write a book review. Not so. Good god, there is nothing so boring, so dank and unappealing on the page, as a bad book review.
And at the risk of sounding reverse-snobbish, I’d like to see more serious review attention go to genre fiction. It is, after all, what most people read. The worst of it is very bad, and the best of it is very very good. Why not help potential book-buyers divide the one from ‘tother?
[via Niall at Big Blog of Cheese]