Reader's Notes - Why Criticism Matters

     From the books people at the New York Times comes a discussion of the question (or the explanation) of why criticism matters.  As a book critic myself -- including a few years as a member of the National Book Critics Circle -- I have observed that freelancing work has dried up, and publications I used to write for like Kirkus Reviews and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, have shut down completely or abandoned literary journalism.  One of the main reasons I started Passing Notes as a blog is because outlets for print publication had become to unreliable.
     The books critics involved in NYTBR podcast discussion -- Sam Anderson, Adam Kirsch and Katie Roiphe -- touch on common themes in their observations.  They have concerns about the noise and ease of the instant culture that the information economy and social media have created -- "noise," is a term deployed.  They are suspicious of the tone of irony (perhaps unearned) that prevails in much of the new media.  They admit to falling into the romanticism of being warriors in the fight against the death of literature.  In these points, they sound very much like people who write for an elite media institution.  More compellingly, these three critics find value in trying to be an ideal reader, one with judgement and taste, and a critic who writes intelligently and beautifully.  I found most interesting the comments about how the work of the critic -- despite the negative connotation of the name -- is to find above all, those things that one likes and to tell people about them.  The link to the podcast is here, and the link to the NYTBR page is here.

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