Matt Cheney noted a few weeks back that Doug Seibold, founder of Agate, an independent US publishing house, has been frank about his feelings on writing about writing in a piece for the Book Standard entitled Bullcrit:
There have always been places where bullcrit especially flourished—college campuses, dinner parties, openings, the book-review pages of journals large and small. As with so many other entities, though, bullcrit has been transformed by the evolution of the Internet, and the proliferation of literary weblogs has opened up vast new cyberpastures full of truly jaw-dropping quantities of bullcrit.
I’ve always thought of bullcrit as a necessary evil, yet another expression of basic human frailty. But the closer I’ve looked at the way the book industry works, the more I’ve realized the fundamental role that uninformed judgment of a bullcrit-like nature plays in how books are brought to consumers. I’m not sure what I make of it all yet, but knowing that bullcrit is basically the glue that holds together publishing as we know it has forced me to reevaluate its importance.
One does not, of course, have to swallow said bullcrit though. No one is asking you to open your mouth, Douglas. Perhaps his tune would change if bloggers reviewed the offerings from his stable? Certainly one's jaw drops for a different reason when this kind of gold glimmers forth in the cyberpasture. (Thanks again Matt.) I'm going to print this Lethem interview out when the children have been prised away one by one from the new computer which we hope to collect on Thursday. I like to read these at a table with a cuppa, in the old-fashioned way. Dash it all, I've run away to uni today to write and mess about, while others swot for exams at home - I'll print it now. So go read it yourselves, I just know it's good already because all Robert Birnbaum's interviews are terrific.
Over a week and no working computer apart from an heirloom 1994 Acorn ( only wired for power)stashed away in the teen son's bedroom - if I could get him out of bed, I could type and save text files for later consumption. I've been to the local library three times this week to check email. I think there is something really wrong with me - I tried to garden on the weekend and got a very stiff backside from bending over.