Monday, January 26, 2009

Is this the best thing to happen to books since...

The good, kind folks over at n+1 have started a new bi-monthly book review blog. If you aren't familiar with n+1, do yourself a favor and surf on over and have a looksie at one of the strongest intellectual journals publishing today. Yes, they can sometimes be wankers-you know, "the smartest kid in the class" syndrome-but oftener and oftener they publish some damn fine literary work. N+1's new venture fills a hole they knew they were digging when they first started publishing the journal:
In n+1, we never wanted to run book reviews. Our purpose was to print the long arguments—unexpected flashes—wild visions that mattered to us, but that no one else would publish, naked as they came. "You need a peg to hang that on. How about a new book on Daniel Bell?" A generation hid its real ideas in book reviews, the way previous generations, wary of the Inquisition, hid theirs in arcane tracts.
See? They can be wankers...but they are also doing some exciting shit, too. To that end, they have started N1BR. The reviews will be of varying lengths depending on the book under review and in the first issue they feature:
Gideon Lewis-Kraus on a study of Richard Rorty, Charles Petersen on Marilynne Robinson, Molly Young on Hugh Hefner and Playboy, and Saul Austerlitz on Tony Judt and perceptions of Israel. In the future, we look forward to bringing you more ambitious criticism on a wide range of subjects, including the best and most interesting books from independent and academic presses. We also promise to run one non-review each issue: this time, an account of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest by Darryl Lorenzo Wellington.
In an the age of shrinking book review pages in most, no, all American newspapers, any new initiative to continue the great art of book reviewing is to be commended. Go check 'em out...particularly the review of Tony Judt's Reappraisals which is the first review I've read that deals with the pros and cons of his work in an honest, non-ideological way.

Just don't tell them that I called them wankers...they can be mean.

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