“I don’t actually think of myself as ever having left the game,” Steve Wasserman said when I asked him how Truthdig lured him back into book review editing. After leaving the LA Times Book Review and setting up shop at Kneerim & Williams at Fish & Richardson, he elaborated, he’d kept imagining which reviewers he’d assign which new releases, so when the political blog gave him a chance to do it for real, he was ready to jump in.
“One of the great betrayals in contemporary journalism,” he said, “has been the reluctance or outright refusal of many newspapers to carry book reviews worthy of the intelligence of their readers. I’m very grateful that Truthdig, among other websites, is willing to step into the breach. What matters is not the means by which people receive their news, but the content. With any luck, we’ll have the best writers on the best books.”
That statement does have an asterisk, though, since Wasserman is still keeping his day job at K&W. While authors represented by the agency like Christopher Hitchens and Pulitzer-winner Caroline Elkins will be able, if not encouraged, to contribute to the section, he assured me that their books will not be assigned for review. “That’s a line that ought not to be crossed,” he said without hesitation. The reviews will debut on the site in October.