Sunday, August 20, 2006

Itzkoff "Covers" Tiptree

Some puns are just too horrible to resist.

By now, most of you probably know that this week's New York Times Book Review features Julie Phillips's biography James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon on the cover, in a review written by the Times's top skiffy hand Dave Itzkoff. (Making Light and Paul Levinson have already noted this, and probably others that I haven't seen yet.)

It's nice to see the book taken seriously (and this is a serious, even a bit stodgy, review in the Times's common tell-a-potted-version-of-the-biography-subject's-life rather-than-engaging-with-the-book-directly style), even if Bob Silverberg is fated to have his "ineluctably masculine" comment trotted out every time Tiptree's story is told. I have no problems with Itzkoff's review (other than the fact that he barely mentions the book, or critically engages with it -- again, that is pretty common for Times reviewers anyway).

James Tiptree, Jr. is being reviewed by everyone and his cousin-in-law, so I hope that actually helps the book's sales. (Though, as a cynic, I have to admit that this looks like the kind of book that appeals most strongly to the people who get their books for free -- such as critics, and myself -- and not all that much to the people who actually pay for their books.) And, as a guy who published an edition of Tiptree's Her Smoke Rose Up Forever not all that long ago, I'd also love to see this attention actually turn into some increased sales for her books.

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