Thursday, January 31, 2008

A lit crit crisis?

In Prospect, William Skidelsky ponders the falling status of book reviewing.
Reviewers rarely attempt more than a plot summary and some perfunctory reflections on style. Trends are rarely analysed. A supplementary argument for taking fiction reviewing seriously is that it might go some way to addressing that familiar complaint: "Where have all the critics gone?" In fact, there are still plenty around, and good ones too—it's just that no one pays them much attention. It says something that the two most important positions in literary journalism in America—the jobs of chief critic at the New Yorker and the Atlantic—are occupied by James Wood and Christopher Hitchens, both of whom are British-born. Even if America's newspapers no longer take book reviewing seriously, magazines do—which may help explain why two of our best critics have decamped.

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