A madcap recap and online vs. offline literary reviews

Life has felt rather un-linear in the last few weeks as I’ve been bouncing from one unusual event to another. The craziness is mainly rooted in my attempt to buy a flat with the help of the government’s shared equity scheme (so many crossed fingers) but it’s not been the only thing gobbling up my time.

Last weekend Ink, his writing partner, his writing partner’s actual partner, and myself took a trip down to Leeds for the Thought Bubble festival. It was fun seeing what everyone was up to and we got talking to some really interesting people. As always, I left feeling quite inspired, but the inspiration all went to waste as the next day I was on the plane to Bahrain to deliver a couple of days of training.

Travelling for work is never as fun or as glamorous as you’d like it to be, but I got to fly business class for the first (and probably last) time and on the last night we were given a short guided tour of some of the highlights – including a wander round the centre and its souks and some really amazing bars.

Bahrain, suk at centre of Bahrain

The trip took up pretty much the whole week and there was some frantic email checking during it, but I made it back safe and sound and in time to pop along to an event discussing literary reviews on- and offline at the MacDonald Road Library in Leith.

The discussion was quite lively – with writer and reviewer Stuart Kelly for print reviews, Rosy Barnes advocating blogs and Eve Harvey of Litopia mediating, and I could see valid points in both sides. I’m impressed by book reviewers as a general rule anyway, as I know I’d never be able to give a negative review to anyone for fear of hurting their feelings.

In a way, I think the argument is one that won’t last long as it looks like the majority of print reviews will be online one day in the near future anyway – the real questions in my opinion will be what quality signals people are looking for when reading book reviews and how the reviewers will monetize the process, if they decide to monetize at all.

I’ll always love paper, but all the new different ways of sharing stories online makes me hopeful about the future of literature in general – at least difficulties tend to inspire people to invent responses, I suppose.

So now I’m home and rather than thinking about books and their reviews I’m going to avoid the snow by getting back to reading some, David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten in next on my list, as soon as I finish the last few pages of Cormac McCarthy’s Cities of the Plain. Note, don’t read this on a plane when you’re getting close to landing if you want to avoid snuffling and red eyes in public.

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6 responses to “A madcap recap and online vs. offline literary reviews

  1. Wow, I feel so loved, thanks guys!

    Aside from NYC, it was my first time Dave. It was cool, not much time for exploring though.

    Basically, I need to leave Israel to last when planning a world tour right?

    Like

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