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Adam Kirsch, A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You

By posted at 8:35 am on September 4, 2008 3

Reuters reported today that The New York Sun is in financial trouble, and may be forced to close shop before the end of the month, unless it can find a backer. In some ways, this isn’t a surprising development. Global affairs, in the current, real-time sense of the term, require enormous resources to cover thoroughly, and economies of scale would seem to cut against a small-circulation newspaper. But the intellectual seriousness of the conservative-leaning Sun has helped it make inroads in an increasingly wide-open market: the book section.

Under the editorship of the poet and critic Adam Kirsch (who has two books out this year), The Sun has become, for my money, the best newspaper book section in the country. Kirsch resembles James Wood in his donnish regard for literary tradition, but, more importantly, he shares with Wood an appreciation for the notion of writerly sensibility – and has been willing to assign books to writers whose well-honed sensibilities diverge from his own. Recent pleasures include Kirsch on canonical German Adalbert Stifter, Benjamin Lytal on contemporary master Marilynne Robinson, Otto Pinzler on the varieties of crime fiction, and Caleb Crain on the evolving English language. This breadth of interest and commitment to excellence (in reviewer and subject) are the key ingredients in the kind of book reviews worth reading. It would be sad, after such a promising start, to see The Sun go.

[Correction: An attentive reader informs us that, although Adam Kirsch is “the book critic for The New York Sun“, and is, in some sense, the book section, he is not the section’s editor. That title, and presumably the role of assigning reviews, belongs to David Wallace-Wells.]

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3 Responses to “Adam Kirsch, A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You”

  1. HAK
    at 12:48 am on September 5, 2008

    I've fallen in love with their book coverage over the last few months. I hope this isn't the end.

  2. ed
    at 11:20 am on September 5, 2008

    To be clear on this, Adam Kirsch is not the NY Sun's books editor. David Wallace-Wells is.

  3. Garth Risk Hallberg
    at 12:02 pm on September 5, 2008

    Thanks for the correction, Ed.

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