Left Eye on Books

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Nation Book Section, Part II

I forgot to mention the worst thing about The Nation's book section: its reactionary choice of presses to focus on. I tallied up the book reviews in all The Nations my public library had stashed on the shelves, beneath the new copy. 23 books reviewed were from large presses like Knopf, Basic, Penguin, Norton. 7 were from small presses (and I was generous in including some borderline majors in small presses). 10 were from university presses, although less of the social science/history/cultural studies from those than you would think, given the prominence of left wing writers in those area (instead, histories of classical music). And 0 books from recognizably left wing presses like South End, AK Press, Monthly Review, or Verso. O. What exactly is The Nation's political agenda?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Nation Book Section

What is up with the book section of the Nation, the most important periodical on the left in the US? Here are some typical books recently reviewed: Federico Fellini: His Life and Work. The Power of Movies. Do the editors really believe these are works that demand the attention of a left audience? Although there are some relevant titles, like At Canaan's Edge and The Intellectuals and the Flag, virtually all the reviews are much longer than they need to be. A short, pithy 'new and noted', or 'in brief' section seems inconceivable. Isn't The Nation one of those publications that periodically bemoans the way the left has become alienated from young people?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Wild Things

Naomi Wolf has a good article in the Times examining the disgusting 'Gossip Girl', 'Clique', and 'A-list' series aimed at teenage girls.

The great reads of adolescence have classically been critiques of the corrupt or banal adult world. It's sad if the point of reading for many girls now is no longer to take the adult world apart but to squeeze into it all the more compliantly. Sex and shopping take their places on a barren stage, as though, even for teenagers, these are the only dramas left.