Sunday's post in which we complained about Blake Bailey's fatuous lede seems to have divided opinion somewhat, but Benjamin Percy, author of Refresh, Refresh and The Language of Elk, dropped us this line, which we quote approvingly:
I've noticed a certain breed of book reviewer has regularly found his way into your crosshairs of late -- those critics who spotlight their voice, their life, upstaging the assigned book. And I'm wondering if this is indicative of a larger trend. Look at CNN. Look at Fox News. The Nightly News. Anchors have gone casual, making small talk between stories, commenting on headlines. The other day, an anchor on Headline News said, in response to a burglary gone wrong, "Wow. That was a stupid move. What a moron!" On another occasion, a female anchor responded to a report on recent fashion trends, speaking of her own shopping habits. This isn't the school of Brokaw and Cronkite.
Turn to print and online media -- and you see something similar. Every reader is invited to participate in a poll, to upload a photo, to share their story, their opinion. The democratic idea is noble -- but the result is often a clutter of ill-informed, reactionary manure that reeks of me, me, me.
And book reviews are along for the ride, as you've pointed out.
Egomaniacal reviewer or cutural phemon? What do you think?
* Props to Ben for the headline, which was the subject line of his email.