Responses to the closing of Kirkus Reviews:
Horn Book editor Roger Sutton on the magazine’s children’s book coverage: “What Kirkus did was to treat books for children and adults the same in the same publication.”
Carolhoda Books editorial director Andrew Karre: “[T]here is no circumstance under which no review would have been preferable” to a negative one.
Washington City Paper‘s Mike Riggs: “[T]he Web is peopled with shit-talkers, and most of them do for free what Kirkus charged money for (bad reviews)…. Kirkus was a check against the site’s near-unregulated comment policy.” I attempted to bestow the acronym AST (“Amazon shit-talker”) in the comment thread to that post, arguing that anonymous reviews on Amazon aren’t cut from the same cloth as Kirkus reviews. (Of course, I have a dog in this hunt, and I’m a former City Paper staffer.) Author Joni Rodgers stepped in to argue that critics who write negative reviews are assholes, I lost it a little, and Rodgers proceeded to modify her argument slightly to say that critics who don’t like a book should just shut up about it. All of which may say something about the value of comment threads. At any rate, Rodgers has expanded on her thinking in a blog post, and though she says nice things about me in it, her arguments about Kirkus and book reviewing are no more fact-based or sensible.
For the next five days, you can hear BBC’s radio play of Joshua Ferris‘ novel, And Then We Came to the End.
The London Review of Books‘ Christopher Tayler, like many critics, figures that Paul Auster hasn’t been the same writer in the past ten years. He has a theory about why.
Technology is destroying authors’ willingness and capacity to write big, ambitious novels.
In related news, technology is really destroying authors’ willingness and capacity to write big, ambitious novels.
Need more proof? Andre Aciman‘s son is one of the authors of Twitterature: The World’s Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets or Less.
Heroes of American Literature #19: Lillian Hellman.
Roger Ebert assembles a batch of Charles Bukowski-related videos.
Ray Bradbury‘s best efforts to save a Ventura, California, library failed.
John Updike‘s Rabbit, Run turns 50 next year. The John Updike Society is using the anniversary as an opportunity to launch its first conference next year.
Kurt Vonnegut: “You’ll never make a living at being a writer. Hell you may even die trying. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write. You should write for the same reasons you should take dancing lessons. For the same reason you should learn what fork to use at a fancy dinner. For the same reason you need to see the world. It’s about grace.”
One thought on “Links: AST Company”
Mark, just to clarify, I never said people who write negative reviews are assholes. I shared my personal rule that I apply to myself. I wouldn’t presume to make rules for other people or tell them my opinion is the one that matters. I don’t have an all-consuming need to be right, and I’m able to like and respect people I disagree with. Being all nonsensical and un-fact-basey like that, I guess I would have been useless as a Kirkus reviewer.
(Fortunately, they couldn’t afford me.)
I do wish you well, brother writer, and I enjoy your blog.