June 21, 2004


Bud Parr: Bookenomics & Policulture

This book is getting so much press, like a Benetton ad, that I became curious about the snarking trend myself. After reading an essay by Sven Birkerts in the last issue of Bookforum, adressing the snark phenomenon, I read a chapter from Peck's book at Maisonneuve about Mr. Birkerts, which damned everything about him right down to his name. I'm not sure how this is "serious engagement" as the editor of Maisonneuve says, because I believe that this type of attack puts literary criticism at the level of the political campaign (ULA comes to mind here also). But as tempting as it is to dismiss Peck as a mudslinger, perhaps he is at least tapping into a corotid artery of critical dissatisfaction. Hmm.

Articles referenced:


Having read most of these reviews during their initial run, I'll be very curious to hear your take, Mark. I think one of the reasons the book is getting so much press is that Peck has pointed to a major hole in review coverage -- namely, the summary, back pat and resultant feel-good atmosphere of reviewing. I'm not suggesting that Peck's is precisely the way to go, but certainly a little bit of honest muckraking never hurt anyone. What I find ironic is that the Julavits manifesto has unleashed the hidden beast. Perhaps negativity is a part of reviewing that that can't be avoided. My only hope is that a pinpointed attack can be somewhat constructive and cite specific examples when trashing instead of remaining exclusively inflammatory.

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