October 26, 2009
Nearly eight months into this site’s existence, I want to thank everyone for reading and to make note of a few small changes. As of today, the Shelf section has been adapted from its original purpose. It’s now a place to keep track of recently released books and what’s being said about them. This will sometimes be a capsule review by me of something I don’t have time to write about at greater length, sometimes a wrap-up of what other critics have been saying, and sometimes a combination of those two things. This will allow the section to be updated much more frequently, keeping another part of the home page fresh. I’ll occasionally sneak in an entry for an older book that I’d like to recommend. This change begins today with a look at four new books.
Elsewhere, the “letters to the editor” experiment is finally being given a formal death notice. Sometime soon, Letters on the navigation bar will be replaced with Index, where there will be an alphabetical list of all the books reviewed in the Circulating and Backlist sections (as well as books given lengthy consideration on the blog) with links to the reviews. In lieu of letters, I do hope you’ll occasionally comment on the blog and feel free to send me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org — though I’m lucky to have many terrific contributors, it’s really just me behind the curtain here everyday, and it’s always nice to hear from people.
As always, if you’re enjoying the site, I hope you’ll spread the word. Thanks again for reading.
March 10, 2009
Over the past couple of years, as newspapers throughout the country have cut back on books coverage, there’s been a great deal of hand-wringing in the critical community about the future of reviews. I have attended more than one panel dedicated to the subject, and despite some distinguished, eloquent participants, these get-togethers are ultimately ineffectual affairs. The extinction of book pages are just another sign of the extinction of newspapers themselves, which are likely to keep folding at a healthy pace in years to come. This is not something I celebrate. But even a relative Luddite such as myself (no BlackBerry, no Kindle, no Twittering) gets most of his shorter-form journalism online. I read the New York Times almost exclusively on a screen.
At the same time, digitization has increased my book reading. A decade ago, if I read about an out-of-print title that whet my appetite, I might have spent years looking for it in secondhand bookstores. Now it would be almost impossible to not find that book somewhere online and have it delivered to my doorstep in a matter of days. Increased availability is one reason that The Second Pass is committed to reviewing older books along with the brand new.
There are many very good literary blogs out there (several of them can be found on our Links page). But most of these feature writing by one person (and perhaps an occasional guest), and, understandably, aren’t always updated daily, blogs being a full-time job for very few people. My occasional byline will be just one of many in the reviews sections: Circulating, which will review newly released titles; and The Backlist, which will focus on older, sometimes unfairly neglected books.
The Blog will be updated several times every weekday. It will include, among other features, links to noteworthy reviews published elsewhere, great opening sentences, book covers both lovely and horrific, excerpts from books we admire, “anti-blurbs,” and roundups of what’s happening on other blogs.
If you enjoy The Second Pass, please set a bookmark and recommend it to the book lovers in your life. If you feel inspired to buy something you read about here, buying it by clicking on the Amazon and Powell’s links we provide will help financially support this site. I embark on this project with high hopes for combining the best of the web (unlimited space, frequency, interaction) with the best of traditional print (curating, scope). Its long-term success will depend on you. Welcome. I hope you enjoy it.