Thursday, May 03, 2007

I had more to say today, but I got sidetracked by literacy and Buffy and homeless bloggers.

Two blogs that I regularly visit have mentioned an article in the New York Times about book reviews moving from newspapers to blogs. Here is the full article, if you are interested. Both bloggers are authors who feel somehow dissed by the New York Times. Here's what Joshilyn said about it: ... because to say, as the NYT did, that BOOK REVIEWS have moved to BLOGS alone is to say that reading is for well off people, a middle class pastime, and only those of us with who have computers in our homes and at our nice office jobs are READERS. You, little poor kids, go rob something, reading is for Muffy and Buffy, not you. Wait ... What?! I'm sorry Joshilyn, you're incredibly funny and occasionally poignant, but to suggest that the NEW YORK TIMES influences poor kids to read their books so they can grow up big and strong is, in my opinion, wrong.

The internet has become a part of most of our daily lives. If this guy can keep up his blog by accessing the public library, you can be certain that the "poor kids" Joshilyn is referencing are also spending their after school hours in libraries doing the same. Also, can I make a confession? Most of my favorite books and poets were at one time assigned to me by a teacher. Those that were not were recommended by Oprah or a friend. A few might have come from my mother. One came from the Today show. Every now and then, I'll pick up an unknown book with a good cover and love it. But never once has the New York Times influenced my decision on what books to read or buy. I guess the argument could be made that the teachers are reading the reviews that are influencing their syllabus choices, but this seems like a long way for information to travel to get to the hands of working-class book lovers. Trickle down literacy, we'll call it. If you want kids to eat their veggies and grow up to go to Harvard and write books that can be sold on, encourage their librarians and English teachers and 101 professors to read - and buy - your book. Or, put the information on the internet, where it is more likely to be accessed by the general public. And leave Muffy and Buffy alone. They're trying to finish today's issue of the Times.


Serenity Now! said...

My child is not allowed to have unfettered access to the computer. So, pray tell, how shall he read that blog?

I believe that Joshilyn was referring to the fact that local papers did away with the book section, but it was the NYT that commented on it regarding blogs.

Homeless guy has free access to a computer and plenty of time on his hands.

Joshilyn said...

Ugh!!! No and eek!

I redacted that statement from my blog and I apologize. I absolutely do NOT feel dissed by the New York Times---that would be ridiculous. I AM hugely embarrassed to have thrown something in haste up on my blog that was so inflamatory and so easily misinterpreted.

It was shoddy, rushed writing on my part. I NEVER meant to imply the NYT is the read of choice of poor kids. That's, um, silly, as you point out, and I feel like a dork for phrasing it in such a way that I look really, NO really, exactly that stupid.

Also, to be clear the NYT did NOT take a stance. They don't do that. They report. Here, they reported a trend, and I do not like the TREND.

Small papers all over the country are following the AJC and the LA times example---newspapers are beginning to stop covering BOOKS. This sends a message that books are not newsworthy and not valid as entertainment. Why read when there is TV!!!! And you don't see movie and TV sections disappearing. And yes, I think on some levels this is a class issue. I have LOTS of relatives who take the home town paper but do not own a computer and who only know what a blog is because they know I have one.

My stance is this and only this: I want my home-city newspaper to have a book review section. I want everyone's home-city newspaper to have one. The end.


Lane said...

Stephanie, this is one of your best posts. Very good comments. And a great retort by Joshilyn as well. Bravo to all. Really good thoughts all around.