Critical Linking: September 11, 2012


So you can see why I am not concerned if most casual newspaper reviews disappear. No great loss. We are not seeing an extinction of the critical evaluation of literature but an evolution into a more wide open country where any reader who cares can find a wealth of critical opinion.  Some by paid professionals, some by unpaid bloggers…or write it yourself.

The fat middle of reviewing, the 600-word review in newspapers, is going away. Scholarship isn’t going away at the more rigorous end. It’s the reader/consumer end that’s emerging, and it is pretty interesting.


The ombud points out that NPR’s audience skews white and mature, and that “many of the voters merely selected the books they knew, loved and identified with when they were teens.” Thus, the poll result “was innocent, normal and natural. If still sad.”

Wait, the reverberating echoes of American racism are just “innocent, normal, and natural”? Try “unsurprising,” but there’s nothing normal or natural about readers only picking two novels with non-white protagonists for a list of the 100 best YA books of all-time.


He was given a “panic button” to press if he was worried about anything. He tested the panic button. It didn’t work.

Never lived with a death-warrant out on you? Well, Salman Rushdie has.


The new genre is meant to be for readers aged 14-35 but how likely is it that a 14-year-old reader would enjoy the same story as a 35-year-old? There may be issues with the content – a story set in a university could include adult language and themes that are either inappropriate for a 14 or 15-year old – or, more likely, what one age group finds exciting may simply be boring for the other.

As someone who is on the upper end of this range, I welcome “new adult.” As someone who knows teenagers, I’m not so sure we go together like this.

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