Despite the recently shitty weather, this week's New York Times Book Review had high hopes for summer, bravely going forth regardless of nature with its Summer Reading issue. Alas, the review's idea of summer reading begins and ends with baseball. That's it. Fantasy baseball, baseball statistics, baseball for tykes, and so on. It was a little much for Intern Alexis, who received nary a peanut or a Cracker Jack for her efforts. For all that time exposed to America's pastime, you'd think the Times would at least give its readers a free foam hand or something. After the jump, Alexis' guide to acting like you're literate.
Ah, the Summer Reading issue. We liked the Superman cover because we like Superman, though we couldn't help but wonder if this was some sort of cross promotional advertising joint venture something or another between the New York Times Book Review and Superman Returns, the Movie of the Summer, a soaring new chapter of one of the world's most beloved super heroes directed by Brian Singer. We understand that Superman Returns tells an intimate story of one man's unattainable love and struggle to belong against a backdrop of vast scope and scale, set in a modern-day Metropolis, and opens on June 30th nationwide, but we think it's odd that the Review would so openly sell itself out like that...
Daniel Asimov, a visiting scholar in mathematics at UPenn, writes in challenging the methodology used in the NYTBR's "Best Work of American Fiction of the Last 25 Years" feature. He claims that the Review's decision to ask each literati to choose one novel as the "best" was a flawed one - instead it would have been more reliable to ask each person to pick their top three. In conclusion, he writes "The method I= suggest is highly likely to result in the same conclusion if you had chosen another group of the same size of a similar composition. But if each person submits only one choice, that is not nearly so likely, rendering your poll's final ranking virtually meaningless."
You know that that means... it's time to burn your copies of Beloved! Burn, baby, burn.
We understand that this is the Summer Reading issue, and as such, we are ready to concede on several points (for example, we stayed calm, did not sound any alarms, when we realized that there was not one Liesl Schillinger-penned review; we are not going to dwell upon Dave Barry's repeated mention of clipping his toenails in his review of Tom Lutz's "Doing Nothing"...), but we will not stand for any more reviews of books about baseball! Hugo Lindgren reviews two baseball-related books - one on baseball statistician Bill James and another on the phenomenon of fantasy baseball; Bob Spitz reviews a new Babe Ruth biography; Ihsan Taylor reviews five baseball books in a special "Baseball Chronicle" section; and if that weren't enough, in the frickin Children's Book section, Charlie Rubin reviews "Heat," Mike Lupicia's newest about a 12-year-old Little League pitcher. We would formally like to shove America's pastime up the collective ass of the editorial staff of the NYTBR. As a form of protest, we went on strike, as it were, and read none of these reviews. Heck, until there is a "Gymnastics Chronicle," we're not reading any more book reviews about sports. Think of this as our attempt to "Stick It."
The Horror, the Horror
Oh Lord help us, Terrence Rafferty has a "Horror" column. This week marks the first installment with a discussion of books with titles like "The Ghost Writer" and "Headstone City." This is just what the Book Review needs. Another infrequent column about a nerdy genre that no one cares about written by an author dedicated to boosting the genre's respectability (Dave Itzkoff's "Science Fiction" column, anyone?). The New York Times Book Review is beginning to look a lot like a Star Wars convention.