NBCC: “No Blogger-Critics Chosen?”

By Neal Comment

clipart-thumbs-down.jpgYesterday’s item about the National Book Critics Circle‘s latest self-promotional flourish raised questions about a detail I hadn’t given much thought when I was writing: Where the litbloggers at? The absence of anybody currently writing for any of the independent blogs covering books and other literary matters, particularly on the panel ostensibly discussing “the future of book coverage,” is simply flabbergasting when you stop to think about it. Sure, there’s Steve Wasserman, who’s about to start a new gig as the literary editor for Truthdig, but it’s almost a sure bet that he, like NYTBR senior editor Dwight Garner, was invited on the strength of his old media connections rather than his late arrival to the blogosphere.

(But, and let me stress this, neither of them is any less welcome for that lateness. Remember, I cheered Garner as one of us months before he actually started blogging, and I’m definitely curious to see whether Wasserman’s editorial sensibilities, and his powerful Rolodex, can be successfully deployed for an online publisher.)

It’s no secret that Maud Newton wasn’t entirely thrilled with the panel she did for the NBCC at BookExpo, which might have dissuaded organizers from asking her back for more of the same—but, come on,she’s still not the only respectable book blogger based out of New York City. Are Bud Parr, Lizzie Skurnick, Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, and Michael Orthofer all going to Terre Haute that weekend? Seriously: To schedule a panel called “Grub Street 2.0” without inviting any currently active independent bookbloggers to offer their perspective? Or a panel asking about the delicate balance between criticism and promotion without inviting any members of the Litblog Co-op? What’s up with that?