Thursday, 7 February 2008

Blogging The New York Review of Books

When I was in university I remember a professor—his name escapes me, such are the vagaries of time—who told the class with great passion: “If you have any interest in the life of the mind, you must read The New York Review of Books.

At the time I had just discovered the publication myself, and found the essays which grew out of a review of one or more books absolutely fascinating. Yes, I said to myself then. Right on!

Over the years we have usually had a subscription, and while Lee always reads it (sometimes months and months after an issue has arrived,) recently I have grown impatient with the articles’ wordiness, lack of focus and too-predictable opinions. The wordy “fusty” had begun to come to mind with I thought of it.

The Feb. 14 issue has an article about blogs though, so I grabbed it before it disappeared into Lee’s pile of “must read—some day.” The essay is by Sara Boxer who reviews 11 books on blogs and bloggers. That she sees fit to give an etymological note on “blog” (comes from “web log,” in case you forgot) suggests that the NYRB expects its readers to be not very engaged in electronic culture. That Boxer compares the casual tone of most blogs with the opening of Plato’s Republic tells you a lot about the readers’ cultural baggage. And that she goes on for 4150 words says more than you need to know about editing at the NYRB.

Who will take time to read anything that long? Not many bloggers.

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