Cover

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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. 8-11

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Introduction: The Reviewer ’s Lament

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pp. 1-14

Book reviews first appeared in America at the end of the eighteenth century. They have been frustrating people ever since. So many essays and articles have been written lamenting the sorry state of American reviewing that they constitute a minor genre. For two centuries reviews have been lambasted by critics, often reviewers themselves, who ...

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Unnatural Selection

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pp. 15-32

At a National Writers Union conference many years ago, I served on a panel called “Becoming a Household Name: Book Publicity and Reviews.”My role as the reviewing member of this panel, with its dual agenda of pragmatism and dreams, was to answer the question on the ...

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Vermin, Dogs, and Woodpeckers

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pp. 33-48

Book reviewing in America is a hybrid occupation. Part trade and part profession, part art and part craft, part literature and part journalism, it lies somewhere between the outskirts of the work world and the fringes of the world ...

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The Match

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pp. 49-66

If the first-time author worries most about whether her book will be reviewed, the author publishing his fifth worries equally about who will review it: authors learn, sometimes painfully, just how much the assignment matters. In my own worst-case scenario, this book on reviewing

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Getting It Right

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pp. 67-86

In 1994, the publishing community—its reviewing contingent in particular—watched uneasily as a libel case came to court. The plaintiff was Dan Moldea, an investigative journalist, and the defendant was the New York Times.Moldea charged that the review of his ...

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Private Opinions, Public Forums

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pp. 87-107

Several years ago I agreed to review a first novel which had already received a few highly placed raves and which was written by a critic whose own reviews my assigning editor said she admired. As it turned out I found the book a ...

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Are Book Reviews Necessary?

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pp. 108-124

In recent years, book reviewing seems to have added new dimensions to its perpetual decline. As many newspapers across the country trimmed their book pages in the past decade, the familiar lament about the declining quality of reviews was joined by a lament about their ...

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Improving the Trade

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pp. 125-140

In reviewing American reviewing, not even the most seasoned of hacks would claim that its “flaws” are “minor.” The question is what realistically can be done to improve a trade so unruly, so dependent on individuals, and so constrained by obstacles that lie outside its ...

Notes

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pp. 141-148

Bibliography

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pp. 149-162

Index

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pp. 163-170

About the Author

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pp. 171-171