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Michael Wolff: The NY Times Book Review Is Dying

Michael Wolff — the eloquent, if prickishly pugnacious media commentator — has forecast the end of yet another aging publication: The New York Times Book Review.

In his Monday column on The Guardian, Wolff forecast the demise of the last freestanding national book section, in much the way he has predicted the inevitable death of The New York Post tabloid.

“[W]hile the NYTBR has been at the very center of the book business in New York and has been the most influential voice in book culture for the better part of a century, it is surely hard to say quite what to do with this weighty history,” he wrote. “Not to mention, how to squeeze a buck out of it. The New York Times has other things to worry about.”

His news peg? The new editor, Pamela Paul, whose credentials he must consider laughable for taking over such an esteemed position.

The new editor is Pamela Paul, and quite unlike any before her. (I believe I can reel off all of them from the mid-seventies on without any effort … the columnist and reviewer John Leonard; the poet and editor Harvey Shapiro; one of the big newsroom bosses, Mike Levitas; followed by Times heavy, Rebecca Sinkler; then former New Yorker editor, Charles (Chip) McGrath; then Vanity Fair writer and Whitaker Chambers biographer Sam Tanenhaus.)

Paul has, pretty much, no writerly or literary credentials. She’s written some straightforward, but non-literary nonfiction – a book about marriage, a book about parenting, and a book condemning pornography – and she’s been the children’s book editor at the Book Review for a short time. Her resume includes two years as a blogger at the Huffington Post, which, it doesn’t seem entirely churlish to point out, is not a job, and a stint writing a column for the Times’ Style section.

That’s when a shepherd boy from the previously-skewered Post came to rescue the bleeding lamb from the Wolff.

But, the thing is, wolves bite.

Image: [The Guardian]

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