Thursday, December 06, 2007

Ah, irony

A book review of a book about book reviewing. Still worth a read.
A book columnist at numerous papers and a former editor of the Boston Review, Pool recognizes the steep molehill of apathy that her awareness campaign must climb. She understands how hard it is to elicit sympathy for the peon status and precarious condition of freelance reviewers and their frazzled editors, even from fellow writers. (Often especially from fellow writers, many of whom bear the lash marks of a bad review and will never give up their dream of vengeance.) Long before bloggers became synonymous with damp mold and scurrilous invective, book reviewers were cast as the pox carriers and bottom feeders of the word business, tattooed with the rep of being bitter, envious parasites, cunning predators, or charter members of the Dunciad. They tore the iridescent wings off Romantic poets for sport, and crouched in the hills like hyenas waiting for Hemingway to falter. Insidious by nature, they fluff up authors' reputations in order to fatten them up for the sacrificial kill: the young slain for failing to live up to their early promise, their distinguished elders dragged by their whiskers into the lair of the spider-queen, Michiko Kakutani, to be eaten. Even the most scrupulous and fair-minded reviewer is considered suspect, a discount knockoff of a real writer.

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