October 01, 2004



The redesign has now given additional purpose for the Tanenhaus Brownie Watch. I'll try and get a report (with a firm reset of the ongoing stats) up Sunday night. Gerard Jones' mention certainly helps things for Tanenhaus this week.


Putting aside any issues with the blog component, which has actually picked up a bit recently with the sub taking over, Bookslut as a whole is a pretty good online magazine, I find. Out of that list, I was second-most pleased to see Words Without Borders, though I hope that mention isn't used to fill any quotas for coverage of works-in-tranlsation.

Gerard Jones

Man, my sister's still fiddling with my little website 'cause I don't know diddly about how to make pages and buttons and navigation stuff, but in November or so I'm coming out with a fully revised Fourth Edition that's gonna be twice as big and is now gonna be called Everyone Who's Anyone in Adult Trade Publishing and Tinseltown, Too, i.e., I'm going Hollywood...and if you think NY book guys are all smarmy and gobbed-up and incestuous and whacked in general, whoa, you should see what the boys and girls at CAA have to say. Oh, and speaking of these NYTBR people and this Tanenhaus guy and that chicken Michiko in particular, none of them has had the good sense to review GINNY GOOD, the best book published thus far this century. What are they waiting for? That's what I wanna know. G.


Well, I'm sulking (for us both). Maybe if I took a rest and didn't post for a few months I'd get a mention.

I'd also point out that there are very few genuine literary weblogs: that is, ones that review and speculate about literature in a literary manner. Dan Green's TRE for example, also not mentioned.


If it was a best of list, Mark and Dan Green should definitely have been included. Nor was it a list of web logs—it was an authorially arbitrary sampling of literary web sites.

WEBSITES, ya dig?

Anyway, I am aware that everytime an old media, especially the NYT, mentions the (literary )web world there is a cacaphonous
chorus of self righteous and indignant ululation. I have some (probably) inept and jejune psyche theories about the mixed and, dare I say, childish reactions but my main point is— it's just words. Take a breath or a walk. Pet your dog. Get a dog. Go easy on the coffee. Eat all the carbs you want...read stories...

Anyway, after having read The Divine Husband and Birds without Wings I would couple them with The Known World as the three great novels of the new, uh millenium.


Must be a crap millennium then. And that's two Ns if we're being picky.


Okay, now that I have the article in my hands, there are some things that should be mentioned:

"The worst lit bloggers sound like what you'd get if you seated the title characters from 'Heathers' around the Algonquin Round Table and gave them a photo of Zadie Smith on a bad hair day."

"the chronic vice of the blogs -- has she mentioned her fellow bloggers? And how clever they are? And how much she really, really likes them?"

Beyond failing to understand the purpose of litblogs (much like last week's silly article on political blogs in the Times magazine, which painted political bloggers as techhead slackers only in this for the money), this is an interesting attack tactic, given that the NYTBR is (as Dennis Loy Johnson has noted and the great Gerard Jones has pointed out above) particularly incestuous. If reference is a weakness of litblogs, then at least we can say that we're far more honest about it than the Times. Besides, doesn't Joe Queenan's hit piece on A.J. Jacobs fall under the same snarky rubric? Also, note the bulleted list approach of Neil Genzlinger, a common stylistic device that's been in use by lit bloggers for far longer (Old Hag, Gawker and TMFTML come to mind).

It seems to me that Tanenhaus's tactic is to vilify litblogs while appropriating the stuff that he likes. And if the gloves are off, then this suggests to me that Tanenhaus is more intimidated by litblogs than even I ever suspected. Good. Maybe this will get him to cover more fiction, first novels, literary titles, and cut down on the regurgitated political crap.

I'll have more to say later.


Week after week the NYT inflames otherwise sensible people—people who have a hand in shaping if not remaking the public literary conversation. How many bad movies does a director have to make before one stops paying attention? How many unsatisfying articles and essays must one read before one decides that a publication is not relevant to one's world or point of view? How about agreeing that given the nexus of a corporate agenda and ambitious careerist writers, the NYT's values are hugely in conflict with the web journal nation? And then get on to what we really should be touching on— stories, books, writers, yes?

Steve, what a clever fellow you are —and you can spell and nit pick . Way cool.

Have you read any of the books that I have proclaimed the greatest of the New , uh, Age?

Dan Wickett

Greatest of the New Age? George Winston has books out there??? Hey, I thought you were proclaiming Prisoners of War as the best book of the new millennium.



Is that the one that goes "Prisoners of war / blue skies in store..."?

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