In 2002 I received a subscription to the New York Review of Books (NYRB) as a Christmas gift. I’d never read it before. In fact, when my first issue arrived I was expecting the New York Times Book Review. I was surprised with what actually showed up in my mailbox. But it was a pleasant surprise. In the years since I’ve religiously renewed. Not that I’ve always agreed with what I’ve read.
For example: J.M. Coetzee’s review of Philip Roth’s Nemesis in the most recent issue; Coetzee’s interpretation that the main character *spoiler alert* is actually a healthy polio carrier in my opinion gives waaay too much credence to the character’s interpretation of events. (I’ve been DYING to get that out!)
Anyway… my obsessive and argumentative nature aside… the NYRB always leaves me with something to think about. Years ago it was a great article on patents and pharmaceutical companies that I forwarded to all my friends. Or there was John Banville’s lacerating (and awesome) review of Ian McEwan’s novel Saturday. Recently I read a surprisingly unbiased look at the Tea Party Movement by Jonathan Raban (3/25/2010 issue) which, while not changing my vote, definitely opened my eyes. The NYRB political coverage isn’t always even-handed (they definitely lean towards the Left), but its writers are thorough.
At this year’s Book Bloggers Convention one of the speakers joked that the war between book Reviewers and the book Bloggers was over. The Bloggers had won. I’m not sure how much of a victory that is. Too many newspapers are dropping their book review sections. The one’s that remain are even more important than they were before. Not only for readers, but as a resource for Bloggers.