Sarah Fay, associate editor of The Paris Review, has a piece in The Atlantic on the digitization of book reviewing, framed beautifully by references to George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Confessions of a Book Reviewer.” She praises Bookslut, Nancy Pearl, Goodreads, and The Los Angeles Review of Books for their collective skills of recommendation, reviewing, and New Criticism. I’d add The Quarterly Conversation, The Rumpus, The New Inquiry, The Morning News (for their annual Tournament of Books feature), and of course, The Millions.
A while back, I linked to a contentious letter between Saul Bellow and Jack Ludwig, written not long after Bellow found out Ludwig was sleeping with his wife. Now, here’s a (somewhat) less angry piece of correspondence, sent from Philip Larkin to Barbara Pym. Sample quote: “Has anyone ever done any work on why memories are always unhappy?”
While calling for the preservation of the wonderful St. Marks Bookshop, Paris Review editor Lorin Stein explains that "magazines like The Paris Review need good bookstores, where the staff knows how to spread the word about good writing, face to face, hand to hand."
Recommended Reading: On the forgotten journalism of Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee's forays into journalism included a 1,200-word profile of Officer Dewey, the lead investigator in the series of murders which were the focus of Truman Capote's seminal In Cold Blood, and another short profile of Capote himself for the newsletter of a Book of the Month Club which had selected In Cold Blood as its monthly read -- seriously.