Sunday, May 31, 2009
I picked up a newspaper on the way home. I see one section starts with a half page splash saying "A Book Lover's Summer" and a picture of a woman on a hammock. The review section itself is only one page. Are these things shrinking (well of course, they are--the real question is: why?).
This 'summer reading' page starts with the line "If we ever needed a healthy does of escapism, this sure is it." But what, exactly, is the Wall street Journal's idea of escapist reading....
* Non-fiction, 5 reviews (escape from reality with... books about reality?)
* Literary fiction, 4 reviews (escape from reality with tales of pathos, ambiguity and suffering?)
* Murder/thriller/crime, 3 reviews (okay, fictional death and mayhem is some people's idea of escapism)
* Followed by cross-genre, horror and saga with a review each.
Here are some snippets from the reviews of three of the fiction books....
* "the melancholy of a man looking ahead to his own death..."
* "...a park avenue matron mourns the death of her soldier son..."
* "His beloved older brother committed suicide at the age of 13..."
In short: escapism, you're doing it wrong. Is one to assume that....
1) ...present company excepted, romance and erotica reader do not read the Wall Street Journal of represent less than 6% of the escapist book readership so as not to show up in a selection of 15 books,
or 2) those readers who do enjoyed romance and/or erotica should be ashamed and not expect a great newspaper to sully it's pages with such trash (although books about people being killed by "rats with knife-edged arms" is fine).
But as to that who "why are the newspaper book review pages shrinking thing; I have a theory about that....