Posts are flying around the literary blogosphere lamenting the Death of Literary Criticism. Now, by my count this particular demise has been predicted at least three times in the past few decades, so why worry now? The short answer is that more books are published annually than ever, and now there are fewer book reviewers. The LA Times recently folded its freestanding book review into the rest of the weekend paper and newspaper staffs around the country are trimming review positions in favor of syndicated wire service reviews.
Michael Connelly, a crime fiction writer, published an op-ed in the LA Times protesting the move and he paints a dire picture of our cultural future:
The truth is that the book and newspaper businesses share the same
dreadful fear: that people will stop reading. And the fear may be
well-founded. Across the country, newspaper circulations are down — and
this is clearly part of the reason for the cuts to book sections. At
the same time, the book business increasingly relies on an aging
customer base that may not be refueling itself with enough new readers.
Should we blame cash-strapped newspaper companies or a culture that's shifting away from traditional media altogether? Ladies and gentlemen, start your iPods--to lend reasoned analysis, we now turn to Steven Colbert, who interviewed Salman Rushdie on this subject earlier this week (click below or watch the full show on iTunes):