On June 5, 2009, Readerville closed up shop, and by June 6 I had started giving serious thought to what would come next. Readerville was good to me in a number of ways, but being part of the blogging team there really struck a chord. I loved the whole colloquy I'd gotten going with the small community
of bloggers, the larger world of readers, and the great big universe of
the literary. It was stimulating on a regular basis, and it was fun. And
I liked the synergy we had as a group there. Karen Templer put together
a good team of articulate, opinionated, and interested writers, and I
always felt a general degree of respect for what we did.
So I'm — well, poaching is a harsh term — I'm gathering my
fellow Readerville alumni around me in the hope that we can carry some
of that good momentum forward. I realize there's a very good chance the
world doesn't need another litblog. The conversation has been popping
up a lot this month, maybe in predictably cyclical fashion but certainly
timely for me: Is the litblog dead? Is the litblog as we know it dead, poised to mutate and spawn and devour the empty husks of newsprint? Is this just highbrow jerking off? And if so, is that OK?
Patrick Kurp of Anecdotal Evidence and D.G. Myers at A Commonplace Blog
put up a round-table symposium on the subject at the beginning of
September and got some thoughtful, smart responses — I read them all and
came away neither overloaded nor depressed, which is no small thing.
Mark Athitakis offered up a particularly measured response in American Fiction Notes, which sparked some good commentary at Literary Kicks and the Denver Post. (If I hadn't just finished drawing up that pretty banner, I might have considered naming this blog deaddeaddead.com. Someone should buy it up.)
Fortunately, there aren't a lot of stylistic distinctions we need to fuss over here. We have some chops already — a fine content-to-link ratio, the right amount of snark to sincerity. We already know how it feels to do it right. As Athitakis says: "Ultimately a blog’s success is going to have to be defined by how
often you provide interesting commentary about books, without gimmicks." Hey — that we can do.
The entire summer has come and gone since I first thought of this. It's most definitely still a work in progress. I could dither with it forever, but if we're in the business of quoting Voltaire, another good one to keep in mind is Perfect is the enemy of good. If I can't roll with a little indeterminacy, I'm in the wrong business. I hope people will feel free to comment and to contribute as well — if you have something you think is worth writing about here, send it to me at email@example.com. Criticism is also welcome, as are compliments.
The painting is "The Bookworm," by Carl Spitzweg. Yeah, I know it's corny, but I don't believe it doesn't make you smile just a little.