I picked up Steve Ulfelder’s first crime novel Purgatory Chasm shortly after it was published in 2011….
So, beyond the obvious, one great reason to start keeping a journal is because it’s great competition. Instead of answering the question, “How many books did you read last year?” (basically a Johnson-size contest for the literary nerd) with the vague “I don’t know, I think about 10 to 15”, you now can have a definite answer.
Three years ago, I read 10 books. In 2011 and 2012, I read 16 each. That’s progress, folks.
What we’re doing here on the blog is trying to steer overwhelmed and distracted readers to what’s good, and what is worth their time. Writing a bad review? I could do it all day, and have done just that with my take on the recent television show The Newsroom. I don’t know if I would go all out to slam a writer, knowing what the process is like.
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 old passive model where we say: “If only that casual reader will stumble onto that book review on their way to the telly listings, then publishing will thrive.” is dead.
How the reader views the overall form of a novel, or an art lover a work of art, or a listener music, can be very subjective. The more conservative composer Gluck thought that Beethoven’s Seventh wasn’t really music, just a chaos of noises. Many casual observers think Jackson Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm is just the painter making a big mess on the canvas.