There’s been quite a conversation about book reviewing going on across the country in recent months (if you are “into” books, esp. poetry, and haven’t heard about it you might as well crawl back under the rock you’ve been sleeping under). At times there have been provocative things said between individuals and groups who each have their own opinions as to the purpose and process of reviewing; there have also been extremely insightful pieces of opinion and theory that are particularly engaging.
For my part as a serious reader, but amateur reviewer, I’ve been standing in the back of the room listening in on what people are saying. If nothing else, it gives me the chance to orient myself as a new writer on the scene making a place for himself somewhere in the vast depths of the literary world. To my mind, the primary importance of such conflicts developed between ideologies is the discourse that opens whereby approaches to reviewing become reflective. The opportunity arises for reviewers to ponder just what it is they are doing and why they do it in the first place; beyond this lies hope that thinking and re-thinking practice, with the input of others involved on either end of the literary spectrum, will result in some serious and dedicated development and advancement in the approach to reviewing. I shudder to think of the day when nothing new can come of methods of commenting on books that come on the market.
So, once again, if you haven’t been following this I recommend you follow Sina Queyras’ blog – Lemon Hound. Queyras has been interviewing a range of people of the book reviewing persuasion to seek out their thoughts on the debate. Thus far she has compiled a list of nineteen discussions, which she has been so kind as to link to on the margin of her blog. I’ve been reading through them and must say I’m enjoying what I’ve seen thus far. Jacob McArthur Mooney makes an appearance, as does Stephen Burt (whose piece is well worth the read) and Ange Mlinko. To find who else weighs in, you know what you have to do.
If you have been following these discussions around the interwebs and have found some great pieces yourself, drop me a line. I’d like to know what I’m missing out on.