This Saturday at the Texas Book Festival in Austin, I will be moderating a panel on literary criticism (the online festival schedule is here). Specifically, the panel is “LitCrit: The State of Book Reviewing,” a topic that is sure to draw two or three spouses and maybe a janitor, especially when it’s up against George Saunders (humorous author of The Braindead Megaphone), New Yorker classical music critic Alex Ross (author of the terrific The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century), actress Marlee Matlin, The Onion Presents: Our Dumb World: Atlas of the Planet Earth and, of course, You Can Learn Magic, with the Kent Cummins Magic Camp Magicians!.
In our defense, I must confess that a panel on the troubles in book reviewing was my idea — almost a year ago, I pitched it to Clay Smith, the director of the festival. This was long before the dismissal of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s books editor, before the cutbacks at the LA Times and elsewhere, before the uproar in litblogs, before the National Book Critics Circle’s “save the endangered book page” campaign and before everyone else and his cousin had presented a panel on the same topic.
Our panel will just be better than everyone else’s. So there.
In our favor, we will have Alan Cheuse of NPR fame, Jessa Crispin, the Bookslut, the National Book Critics Circle’s Nona Balakian Winner Steven Kellman (that’s the highest prize a book critic can win, next to a Pulitzer) and Bloomberg News columnist, former Publishers Weekly editor and all-round nice guy Ed Nawotka.
See you there.
Cross-posted on book/daddy.