Critical Notes

Monday Roundup


Reports from Book Expo America filtering in, including a wrapup this morning by Scott Timberg in the Los Angeles Times here. “BookExpo has been getting less important,” City Lights executive director Elaine Katzenberger told Timberg, explaining that the rise of the Internet and other innovations over the last 15 years or so had begun to eclipse personal meetings and the physical showing of upcoming books, which is a primary purpose of BEA. “Nobody’s really sure what it is now. But people keep coming,” she said.

Plus extensive coverage on the Los Angeles Times blog, Jacket Copy , from William Shatner/George Hamilton/Hugh Hefner sightings to explorations of Google and Kindle (5,000 books available and counting) and childen’s book authors lined up in Dodger stadium and Tolkien’s last gasp…

Meanwhile, Bob Hoover, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, concludes that this year’s BEA lacked zip. There were few booke editors in attendance, he noted, and with the release of books timed for Costco instead of the press, there was a missing piece: “But, the writing and reading of books is personal, as the dozens of authors here at BEA can attest by the friendly and grateful receptions of their fans at signings where the lines were long. When the most common intermediary between the writer and the reader—the local paper’s book editor—is losing his or her place in the equation, there’s a void that is irreplaceable.”

Michael Chabon on the influence of his teacher Oakley Hall here.

NBCC board member Art Winslow on the new Andre Dubus III novel.

NBCC board member David L. Ulin on three books published to commemorate the assassination of Bobby Kennedy 40 years ago this week.

Former NBCC president John Freeman calls Wales’s Hay fest “the Woodstock of the mind.”

NBCC board member Celia McGee on “Black Watch,” which tells the 300-year history of the Royal Highland Regiment through all of its wars.

Former NBCC board member J. Peder Zane on the “late great Jonathan Williams,” once called “the truffle hound of American poetry.”