Monday, March 20, 2006

Itzkoff to Fowler to Schaub to Morgan to Tinker to Evers to Chance

Cheryl Morgan has put out a "Let's you and him fight" APB about Michael Schaub's Bookslut post about Karen Joy Fowler's remembrance of Octavia Butler at Salon. (And if anyone tells you the blog world is incestuous and overly connected, this is exactly what they're talking about.)

I refuse to rise to the bait (he said, while posting on this very subject), and, actually, I find I mostly agree with Schaub. Fowler's last two paragraphs are tacked-on, and don't follow naturally from the rest of her essay. I still don't think the reaction to Itzkoff was "comical rage," but I seem to be parsing emotional states very often, and very finely, in this discussion. (For myself, again, the aim was deliberately comical, but faux-rage at best.)

Come to think of it, I believe Schaub is misreading the reaction of SFnal bloggers (in thinking that we all hate The Times) because he's used to a different segment of the blog world. Blogging is famous for attracting would-be journalists (or pseudo-journalists, or people doing things that are similar to journalism in some ways), but the blog world is much wider than that. The SF blog sub-world that's gotten upset by Itzkoff, for example, is mostly made up of writers and other professionals. We're not frustrated newspapermen; I don't think any of us resent The New York Times for not hiring us to do Itzkoff's job. We're worried because he looks to be dangerously incompetent for the job, and it's a high-profile job that directly affects our end of the book biz.

(On the other hand, Counting Heads surged up Amazon's bestseller list on the Monday after Itzkoff's review, proving once again that even bad publicity is usually good publicity.)

If you asked us six months ago what we'd like to see in a Times SF reviewer, we might possibly have said "I'd like to see a guy who explains what he likes and doesn't like, who take a high profile in the Book Review and the wider world, and who sparks discussions about the books he reviews." So maybe we'd better be a bit more careful with our second wish, or we'll find that the sausage is stuck on our collective nose.

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