Critical Mass

Geeta Sharma-Jensen’s Farewell Column in Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal

By Eric Banks

NBCC board member Geeta Sharma-Jensen has announced that she has accepted the buyout offer from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

“The Web? Broadband? What were those? What did we know then about how, in roughly 30 years, the “Internet would bring a cultural change, splinter advertising, and bring our industry to its knees, forcing it to change – or die?

“It is as it should be. Better mousetraps trump rusty ones. In this current maelstrom, then, I’m grateful for the guidance and opportunities my editors gave me, the best of them 10 years ago when they let me become book editor and critic. The job has meant more to me than they know.

“It inspired me during the first few years. Then, in the bleak years after the sudden death of my still-young husband, it saved me. Evening after long evening, grieving, in pain, I sat in the newsroom, leafing through books, selecting which ones I should tell readers about.

“In those books I found companionship and solace; I found answers. And one evening I even found the beginnings of acceptance. I picked up Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and was startled by her precise description of grief and longing after her husband’s death. Oh, God, I whispered, and in the quiet of the newsroom night, I put my head down on my desk and wept.

“It has been the best of jobs, this conversation with all of you about books. Thank you for letting me be a part of it. It’s not ending now, just changing a bit. This paper will continue writing about literary culture, and sometimes I’ll be a part of that new conversation.”

Sharma-Jensen’s complete farewell column can be read here.