divorced but not devout

June 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

LA Review of Books Editor's Note

Well, this is perhaps not the best way to jump back into posting – by linking to a long editor’s note that is a review of a review of reviews. But it’s an interesting nesting doll, so I wanted to bring attention to it. I LOVED the idea of limiting the scope of reviewing to those books that you would bother trying to describe to someone you want to sleep with. Impractical? Sure. And yet as a litmus test of what is interesting and worth the time and energy involved in book reviews, it’s provocative and not so inaccurate, and gets to the heart of what interests people – so much better than bland coverage of the latest releases.

I also liked* (asterisk here because it’s a flawed argument, but if I were on facebook or something I would “like” it) Gumport’s gall in suggesting that we should write for our friends, our imagined lovers, our intimate circle. Again, impractical, but we all have imagined readers for our work, and those imagined readers aren’t strangers. They’re our friends, or people we wish were our friends, or some version of ourselves, or some version of an authority figure. And when we write for those readers there is something at stake, we write in a more personal voice* (again, asterisk because so much can be said here about voice and whether that voice is truly ever ours and when is it most ours and does that depend on what we’re writing and who we’re writing for and blah blah), we write with a light and a heat that isn’t there when we write for strangers. And, folks, that kind of lit-up writing is what I like to write and what I like to read. It’s the kind of writing that feeds my soul and teaches me and irritates me and bruises me. It engages and enlivens, and so much of literary criticism and literary everything nowadays is missing the spark. Maybe tightening our circles and focusing on the orgy is the way to bring it back.

Or, hey, just watch this Tonight Show clip. Good song about sexual frustration. Great album.


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