Saturday, May 12, 2012

Week in Review (May 5-12)

This week, I’m afraid I wasn’t online that much, so I may well have missed a few articles and posts. Nevertheless, I did stumble across a few interesting articles. So, we have Sarah Fay of The Atlantic ponders the future of book reviews online; Lev Grossman is interviewed for Far Beyond Reality; Myke Cole writes about authors and their political views, and what sort of impact that can have on readers, and when it’s ok to voice these opinions; and Bookworm Blues continues the “Special Needs in Strange Worlds” series with articles by Teresa Frohock, Daniel Goodman, Aidan Moher, Stina Leicht and Jay Lake.

The Atlantic: “Could the Internet Save Book Reviews” by Sarah Fay [Article]

Even as print publications are getting rid of reviewers, websites and podcasts offer new ways of approaching literature.

Obviously a subject that’s close to my interests… Fay starts off the article using George Orwell’s excellent “Confessions of a Book Reviewer” essay to frame the current state of book reviewing. My only criticism is that Fay doesn’t really look at independent blogs, and looks almost exclusively at blogs and podcasts linked to larger publications (Washington Post, New York Times) and media (NPR).

Far Beyond Reality: Author Interview – Lev Grossman

I’ve only read one of Grossman’s novels, Codex, but I’ve been meaning to read his Magician books. This is a great, long interview with the author and TIME Magazine’s go-to geek (which is actually where I knew Grossman from first).

“When to Speak Up” by Myke Cole [Article]

In this piece, Myke takes a look at how the political and religious views of an author can have an impact on a reader’s perception and enjoyment of a novel. It’s an interesting and difficult topic to consider – thus far, I’ve only been turned off trying an author’s work because of a publicly stated position on politics, but I haven’t yet stopped reading an author’s books after I discover that he or she has political and/or religious beliefs that are different to my own. Cole mentions three authors, but I’m sure there are many other popular authors (especially in the political thriller genre) whose politics do not necessarily align with those of all their readers.

“Mieville, Card and Miller are also vocal about their pol­i­tics and reli­gious views. They aren’t shy about step­ping out in public and taking a hard line, con­scious of the feathers it will ruffle and not caring (at least on the surface).

“In a per­fect world, art would be judged strictly on its artistic merits. I firmly believe that’s how it *should* be. But that isn’t how it *is*. The fact remains that the per­sonal views of these three writers have col­ored my impres­sion of their work. I cannot pick up a work by any of these artists without remem­bering who they are *as people* and what they believe. This taints my expe­ri­ence, inter­feres with it. It makes me wish I’d never gotten to know them.”

The article finishes on a nice note, too:

“polit­ical pun­ditry wasn’t what got me through child­hood and ado­les­cence. Reli­gious polemics didn’t show me the person I want to be.

“Sci­ence fic­tion and fan­tasy did that.”

Bookworm Blues: “Special Needs in Strange Worlds” [Articles]

The excellent series of guest articles continues, with contributions from Teresa Frohock, who discusses the disabilities of two of her characters (from Miserere) and how they adapt to and cope in their environment; young blogger Daniel Goodman, whose own disabilities led him to reading, and he writes here about his introduction to fantasy; Aidan Moher (editor of A Dribble of Ink) writes about Tad Williams’ Shadowmarch trilogy; author Stina Leicht writes about how “perfection is dead boring” and that it is in people’s flaws that complexity can be found, and addresses dyslexia; and author Jay Lake writes about living with cancer.


Over on this-here humble blog, we had a pretty busy week: reviews of N.K. Jemisin’s The Killing Moon (Orbit) and Phillip Margolin’s Executive Privilege (Hodder). On the graphic novel front, I’ve been quite busy, reviewing Captain America: Winter Soldier, DMZ Volumes 2, 3 & 4 (reviews of 5 & 6 coming next week – it really is a superb series). Two posts this week were particularly popular (and rightly so): an interview with Stina Leicht, and a guest post by Jon Courtenay Grimwood.

Check back next week for more fiction reviews, another interview, and more graphic novels and comics reviews.

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