Tuesday Hangovers

  • John Green delivers an excellent review of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief in the NYT, which pretty well captures exactly how I felt about it. And it’s a beautifully written review too. I wish more reviews were as thoughtful about how a book interfaces with the writer’s work that came before.
  • Glen Hirshberg’s World Horror Convention post cracks me up in parts (and is also an excellent encapsulation of why conventions can be very good things for writers): By Friday afternoon, twelve hours after my arrival, I’d learned once and for all that vampire poets do age, many of them gracefully, and that their joy in gross-out contests and amateur film premiers is genuine and generous. I’d seen the Dark Scotsman: black kilt, black tartan, red hair, burr that could cut chainmail. He was new.
  • Megan at Bookdwarf asks for some opinions on this Slate article which basically says shopping at independent bookstores is for poseurs and hipsters. People, what is with the indie bashing? I don’t get it. Why is this fashionable to criticize? If every local coffee shop and arthouse movie theater in America was in danger of closing, I doubt the reaction would be to praise the chain competitors that are exacerbating the situation and criticize the local establishments. (And no, I do not think that chains are inherently EVIL; I think they are inherently impersonal and therefore unable to deliver certain things that are important to me. But yes, they are useful and have their place too.) Anyway, drop by at Megan’s and say your piece.
  • Re: the whole discussion about music, race and dismissal last week, Ben Bova thinks kids today are killing the symphony with their craptastic musical taste. It’s, er, interesting to see someone embracing such a classic geezer stereotype as "kids these days." One of our good friends conducts the local youth symphony; I’m guessing as long as such institutions exist, some kids will be exposed to classical music. I’ll have to ask him if he thinks the symphonic scene will be dead in a generation. Somehow, I find it doubtful he’ll say yes. My own theory is that as long as there are really wealthy people, there will be symphonies. Not that symphonies are only for the wealthy, but let’s face it, they write the checks. (Via Scalzi.)

3 thoughts on “Tuesday Hangovers”

  1. People, what is with the indie bashing? I don’t get it. Why is this fashionable to criticize?
    Because those of us not lucky enough to live near a good independent bookstore (the vast majority, I suspect) are tired of being excoriated for shopping at Amazon or chains?
    This is simply backlash, and about time too.

  2. See, I don’t think that’s fair at all. I grew up in the sticks on chain bookstores; it was all we had. (And when I say had, I mean if you drove 45 minutes, you could get to a tiny chain store.) And I think most people agree (at least the ones I’ve talked to about this — and that includes some fierce supporters of indie bookstores) that the access issue is just one way in which chain stores are a very good thing.
    Sadly, this is not the first “backlash” I’ve seen. When Avenue Victor Hugo went out of business, there was a good deal of nastiness directed toward it and other independents.
    Frankly, I don’t want to live in an either/or world. Even when I didn’t live near a good independent bookstore, I LOVED visiting them at every possible opportunity. It’s a different experience and a valuable one I’d hate to see go extinct.

  3. Using Cody’s as an example of your local independent, and then saying your local B&N is likely to have a better selection than your local independent, is like using Stranger Things Happen as an example of self-publishing, and then saying a book from an NY publisher is likely to be better than one that’s self-published. It might still be true, on balance, but the example you picked totally undermines your credibility.
    I appreciate the big chains. I appreciate that you can now find a decent book and an okay cup of coffee in, say, Medford, Oregon, or Pueblo, Colorado, even if you just got off the freeway. I’m also tired of the crapshoot that is looking for any particular book at the classy little independent on the corner, no matter how nice the people who run it. But lumping a Cody’s or a Kepler’s with those places doesn’t make any more sense than lumping a Borders with the Simply Books at the airport.

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