Yesterday, I wrote a thing on my site in response to the recent flare-up of debate on the changing role of book critics, Jacob Silverman’s assertion in Slate that writers are too nice to one another on Twitter, and so on. It’s generated some discussion, and I’ve received a half-dozen emails from authors who wanted to share their thoughts.
One email, from Ravi Mangla (you can find him on Twitter @ravi_mangla), pretty much made my day, and also stands as a perfect testimonial to what we’re trying to do with Book Fight:
I just wanted to thank you for your blog post. One of the best responses to the Silverman article I’ve read. That’s the reason I love the Book Fight podcast so much–you guys don’t pull your punches. A positive review actually means something (which is why I’m really looking forward to reading Everett’s Erasure).
The fact is, positive reviews fail to incite dialogue, and–as you alluded to in the post–audience response is a necessary function of any art community. Since it’s unlikely the approach to reviewing will change, sometimes I think what the community needs is some kind of polarizing tastemaker website (a la Pitchfork) to serve as a hub for debate and discussion. But of course no one is going to want to play the bad guy. Maybe podcasts can lead the charge. They helped revitalize the comedy scene; why can’t they do the same for literature?
So, hey, thanks Ravi.