Reviewing Reviews

John Freeman questions if reading about books has replaced the real thing:

In a way, pre-judgement is a necessary evil of criticism: there are far more books published than anyone could possibly read, busloads of awarded writers who aren't actually worth reading. There's no way to approach this forest gingerly. You need a buzz saw to clear some breathing room, gain a sightline, and criticism has to have enough teeth and ubiquitous availability to be that instrument.

Stepping away from the computer for just a day, though, it's hard not to realise our habits create that crowded forest. In his book, Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson talks about the way that nations are socially constructed imaginary worlds, in spite of all their inconsistencies. The growth of the internet has created, I think, a new imagined community of readers - a group who overlap and intersect and read about one another's cultures.