Who will Criticize the Critics?

Posted by Jason Diamond

Things I picked up and though about while reading the NY Times Sunday Book Review series of essays, “Why Criticism Matter” this morning.

1.  I’m curious to see who will respond to these essays.  Edward Champion did on his Twitter, and I’m really curious to see if he plans to expand upon his thoughts, or if he’s done talking about it.  I had mentioned on my own Twitter that reading through these essays, I suddenly missed Levi Asher’s review of The Review over at Lit Kicks, and thought this the perfect opportunity to start it back up.  He wasn’t excited about that idea.

Kevin Lincoln, editor of  The Duke Chronicle’s arts and culture section, mentioned on his Twitter that, “Significant that the two best essays are by the younger critics [I believe he’s talking about Sam Anderson and Elif Batuman] and are only ones that don’t spend currency dancing around Kazin.”  That brings me to my next thought/question.

2.  Is Alfred Kazin the patron saint of modern critics?  He seemed to be the most name checked critic among the six.

3.  In her essay, Elif Batuman makes mention of Marco Roth’s essay from N+1 issue eight, “Rise of the Neuronovel.”  I sometimes wonder what lasting legacy the supposed preeminent lit journal of this generation will end up having.  I’m glad that Roth’s essay, which I think is fantastic, keeps popping up.

4.  How necessary will people find these essays?  Was it a state of the union for criticism circa 2011, or a lot of intellectual wanking off?

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