The Long Decline by André Alexis | The Walrus | July 2010

In other words, a book section isn’t only about letting people know that such-and-such a work has been published. It’s a place where consideration happens — and the nature of a consideration is important, whatever book or idea sets it in motion. Consideration, for me, isn’t so much a matter of determining the ultimate value of a work, but rather of allowing a community to participate in the evaluation of the work.

I finally got around to reading this meanderingly beautiful article on literary criticism and its previous semi-existence in Canada.

Personally. I liked books. I liked writing. I even liked “Anatomy of Criticism.” But I always hated the BOOKS section of the newspaper.

I never understood:
1) what they are trying to convey.
2) who the intended audience is. (I can never see somebody reading TLS and afterwards say, “Wow, that was a riveting piece, I am going to buy the book.” I always imagine literary critics seems to intend for the authors themselves to be the true audience.)
3) Is this a good book? Is this a book worthy of attention? Is this book relevant to my wants and interests? (Most review seems to be some kind of onastic, lit-crit, find-the-stylistic-flaw exercise that is better kept in private letters between friends. )

The whole thing has an over-inflated sense of the importance of criticism. I think it is a bit rich to call Book Sections “agorae.” And why should the writer privilege the critic (who is only one reader in a mass of reader) in the determination of the meaning of a work over the mass reader? The quoted above seems to give all the weight of consideration to a bunch of people (community) that has access to be published in newspaper and no one else…

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