Perfect is the Enemy of Good

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 Someone should buy it up.) 

Carl_Spitzweg_021Fortunately, 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 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.


31 Comments to Perfect is the Enemy of Good

  1. Pat D's Gravatar Pat D
    September 16, 2009 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Hey, hey, hey!
    Nice start, Lisa.
    I’m working on a little article about Victor LaValle for you.

  2. Kat Warren's Gravatar Kat Warren
    September 16, 2009 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    I’m smilin’!

  3. Kat Warren's Gravatar Kat Warren
    September 16, 2009 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Prescient Voltaire on the Kindle!

  4. Kate Burn's Gravatar Kate Burn
    September 16, 2009 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    The first thing I saw after reading this was a thumbnail of Steig Larsson’s The Girl Who Played With Fire . I took it for a serendipitous omen.

  5. September 16, 2009 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    This is a beautiful place already.

  6. Leah's Gravatar Leah
    September 16, 2009 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    And better is the enemy of done! Great to see this up and getting ready to go. Great job, Lisa!

  7. Tabby's Gravatar Tabby
    September 16, 2009 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    I love the Voltaire quote, Lisa. I’m looking forward to your next entries already.

  8. September 16, 2009 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Lisa, congratulations, this is beautiful and shiny and intriguing. I look forward to more!

  9. September 16, 2009 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Just lovely, honey. I am truly looking forward to this.

  10. Karen Wall's Gravatar Karen Wall
    September 16, 2009 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Readerville had been down a week before I knew about it, out of town, computer problems, etc. I was so depressed because the first thing I did when I got my computer back was log on to RV. Though I’ve reconnected with a lot of RVers other places, I’m so happy about this. Congratulations, Lisa.

  11. nbm's Gravatar nbm
    September 16, 2009 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Looking good, kiddo. That’s quite a blogroll! Do you ever read the Literary Saloon at the Complete Review, which focuses on books in translation? It makes one feel so sophisticated.

  12. September 16, 2009 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Oooh, i am looking forward to this. Kudos to you, Lisa. It looks great.

  13. Irish's Gravatar Irish
    September 17, 2009 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    That a girl, Lisa. Bloddy grand indeed!

  14. September 17, 2009 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    NBM, the link to the Literary Saloon is right there under… “the.” It is a very good site for looking outside the provincial U.S. box. Maybe a listing tweak is in order.
    Thanks, everyone, for all your good words. Now to buckle down and provide a little content for y’alls.

  15. Renee's Gravatar Renee
    September 17, 2009 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    An excellent beginning…

  16. September 17, 2009 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Very Nice!, looking forward to more.

  17. September 17, 2009 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Lisa! Wonderful! I look forward to reading more. I admit to being a lurking type, but you’ll see me peeking just between the lines! xo

  18.'s Gravatar
    September 17, 2009 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Beautiful, ‘bliv.
    I love the banner.

  19. nbm's Gravatar nbm
    September 17, 2009 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Great, I work in a library and apparently either can’t read or can’t alphabetize. Sigh. I love the banner drawing.

  20. September 17, 2009 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Wow. Lisa, this is fabulous. I’ll be checking back daily! Thank you.

  21. s u e s s's Gravatar s u e s s
    September 17, 2009 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Love the blog, love your artwork up top, love the painting, love you.

  22. Miriam Unruh's Gravatar Miriam Unruh
    September 17, 2009 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Hmmmmm. I thought I posted already. Delighted this here Lisa. Glad you went with ‘good’ rather than perfect, but it looks pretty damn good and perfect is highly overrated (or I sure hope it is).

  23. September 17, 2009 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Ooooh. This is very very cool. Can’t wait to see what pops up!

  24. September 17, 2009 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Nicely done, Lisa. I’m looking forward to return visits.

  25. September 17, 2009 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    I’m aboard! (Heh, I typed “I’m abroad.” first. If only…)
    Looks spiffy! And I’m putting you on my Google reader.

  26. cd coleman's Gravatar cd coleman
    September 17, 2009 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Hey! Congratulations. I’m thrilled you’re (and thus we’re) here.

  27. Kat Warren's Gravatar Kat Warren
    September 18, 2009 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    And, a spiffy broad you are, Sarah!

  28. September 18, 2009 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    “Making the perfect the enemy of the good” is actually the name of my mental illness.
    I like the name of the blog too.
    I have a weird association with it though, I first saw it a number of years ago when I was obsessively reading and hearing things wrong on purpose… you know “that’s a cool-ass car” becomes “that’s a cool ass-car”. (tm xkcd)
    I reread the quote a few times (it was in a fairly pretentious presentation handout for a viral marketing proposal) and proceeded to destroy my productivity for the remainder of the day saying “I like fire!” and “do you like fire?” eventually I was answering my phone that way and annoying everyone working in earshot when unbeknownst to me the author of the presentation (a boss, but not my boss) walked up behind me while I was making my vibrating hulk hogan action figure fight my bobble-head jesus as they argued over who liked fire… jesus in a put on nasal whine and hulk hogan in that sort of schoolyard retarded taunt voice…
    To make the whole thing especially unpleasant they were battling it out on the presentation handout and saying: “I like fire!” “No! I like Fire!” “No! Me! Me and Voltaire! We like Fire!”.
    I was asked to write an apology.

  29. September 18, 2009 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    A most excellent story, Angus! I needed a good laugh this afternoon. Too bad that boss didn’t subscribe to Voltaire’s notion: “Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.”
    Everyone should have a Voltaire bobblehead! This photo at Wikipedia would make a great model.

  30. September 19, 2009 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    So happy to see this. Thanks for starting it, Lisa.

  31. Louisey's Gravatar Louisey
    September 23, 2009 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    I’m all for highbrow jerking off. It’s far better than any other kind of jerking off, methinks.
    Looking forward to reading more as you go!
    Perfect is the enemy of good!

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