Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Coffee

Good afternoon, gentle readers
I hope you are having a relaxing Sunday. This is such a bittersweet time of day for teachers.  Monday morning looms ahead.  We're thinking about the papers we need to grade, or the lessons we need to prepare.  We may be regretting the time we twittered away on Saturday. Or not. I'm finally getting my twitter mojo.  Here are a couple of interesting things I came upon via twitter:

I can't remember who tweeted this link, but there were lots of comments from book bloggers in this post from the Waxman Literary Agency on the use and abuse of ARCs.

I discovered One Literature Nut  via twitter, and I liked this post about "distracted reading."  Turns out I'm an "escape reader." That is, I can completely tune out the rest of the world when I'm reading.  I find it a delightful talent; family members sometimes find it annoying.

Speaking of annoying:  I feel the need to rant about "The Problem with Memoirs," published by Neil Genzlinger in The New York Times Sunday Book Review. Rebecca Jones Schinsky of The Book Lady's Blog (she tweets @bookladysblog) has been tweeting the link.  Here's a rant-worthy excerpt:
That you had parents and a childhood does not of itself qualify you to write a memoir.  This maxim....is really a response to a broader problem, a sort of grade inflation for life experiences.  A vast majority of people used to live lives that would draw a C or a D if grades were being passed out--not that they were bad lives, just bland. Now, though, practically all of us have somehow gotten the idea that we are B+ or A material; it's the "if it happened to me, it must be interesting fallacy."
 Excuse me, but is this the "I'm writing for the New York Times, so I must be interesting fallacy?"  Or the "I'm a book critic, and I've decided to grade people's actual lives on the side" fallacy? Does anyone else find this idea of assigning grades to peoples' actual lives condescending and repugnant?

That might be why so many readers are reading and writing book reviews on blogs.  Because they are tired of pretentious rubbish like "The Problem with Memoirs." And the argument that "this flood just has to be stopped" just doesn't hold water (heh), because more and more books are being published electronically.  And just wait until this day comes: e-books and self-publishing will probably make Neil Genzlinger's opinion as relevant as my old eight-track player.  Sorry, but the gates are closed and the barbarians are already inside. Snooki has a book. Or is it Snookie?  Anyway, who cares. People write about their lives, and if you think you can dismiss writers because you think they have C- lives, you have fallen prey to the Pogo fallacy. You think there is a "them" and you're not part of it.  For those of you whose parents don't remember World War II, do a Google search for "Pogo" and "we have met the enemy and they are us."

I actually have a whole lot more rant left in me.  I'm just going to have to save it for the next post, wherein I shall rant about grades in general: grading student work, grading teachers, grading schools, and grading parents. Stay tuned. I've got to go plan some lessons.


Rummanah Aasi said...

Thanks for directing me to that article, Lisa. As a librarian and blogger, I'm always peeved when people mishandle ARCs. I always try to give them to other less fortunate libraries or a teacher that I know who runs a student based review blog.

As for that NYT article about memoirs, *shakes head* I don't even know where to begin. Looking forward to your rant as I'm sure we will have similar points.

Mayowa said...

Haa! Is it Snooki or Snookie? Great stuff, Lisa! I don't know the correct meself and it's not worth the effort to Google it lol.

As to the memoir piece itself, I'm of mixed feelings. Too many people are writing who perhaps shouldn't be (and I may very well be one of them). But who's to say who those people are? Not this Neil fella, thats for sure.

That's the dilemma, too many wannabe writers of all kinds, no good way (or right) to separate them out).

I should mention that even in your rant voice, you still sound absolutely sweet.

bibliophiliac said...

@Rummanah-Thanks for stopping by. I agree, share the ARCS, but don't abuse them. I think many of us have a hard time throwing a book away, even if that's what the publisher encourages.

bibliophiliac said...

@Mayowa-Thanks, ranting is fun. I think one can rant and still be ladylike ;)

Lisa said...

I love that you referenced Pogo! My dad loves Pogo so I grew up knowing all about Pogo but had kind of forgotten the stories!

Betty said...

Ah, a rant about a rant. How apt. I read the article with amusement as I have become so underwhelmed with some memoirs.

Robyn Ryle said...

Nicely said, Bibliophiliac. I love the democratization of the blogosphere. Now everyone gets to write and everyone gets to be a critic, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Judith said...

Loved and adored your rant about the stupid NYT reviewer. I'm annoyed because this exact same article has been published in the New York Times and its ilk many, many times before. How many more times do we have to be subjected to such a waste of newsprint?

My view is, if you don't like memoirists, for heaven's sake, don't waste your time on them. Why don't you do the world a favor and review other books that you believe are more worthy!!! God knows, there are plenty of those.

I happen to thrive on memoirs as audiobooks. They keep me alert and alive on my 74-mile commutes to and from work!

Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)

bibliophiliac said...

@Judith--74-mile commute! *whistles* and snow and ice on top of that. You definitely need audiobooks for that. The NYT review annoyed me on so many levels, but it does beg the question: if you dislike the genre, why not review something else? And his article seemed like an ad hominem attack on memoir writers in general, and the specific writers he mentioned-he attacked their lives as much as their narratives.

Aisle B said...

now you have me dying to read the next segment of this "I am a lioness... hear me ROAR and RANT!"

Get with it coz I know it's going to be good.