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Laura Miller on the Book Review: Crisis or Renaissance?

lauramiller.jpgTwenty years from now, will we see the current state of the book review as a crisis or a renaissance? Today’s guest on the Morning Media Menu was Laura Miller, the author and literary critic from Salon.com.

She talked about her recent book, The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia. In addition, we discussed the future of the book review and things aspiring novelists can learn from readers.

Press play on the embedded player below to listen.

Here’s an excerpt: “Book reviews have gotten to be a sleepy, dull genre of journalism … [Reviewers] have fallen into a lot of bad and lazy habits–taking it for granted that people are interested in what they have to say. They aren’t working as hard to engage with the readers.”

Miller concluded: “In a way, I’m hopeful that writing about books will be rejuvenated in a way by the crisis. Because reviewers will have to think harder about how to speak to readers and not kind of lapse into this connect-the-dots book reviewing that you used to see in some newspaper review sections.”


Miller had advice for writers as well: “The biggest complaint that readers have about literary fiction is that nothing happens. These were my suggestions for how you can get past that–how you can appeal to readers without sacrificing your writerly skills and artistry. The first one was: Have your main character want something. Often writers write about characters who are like writers, who are detached observers and very reflective but don’t have any particular desire. Desire is the fuel of all narrative. Desire is the fuel of life.”

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