Returning to my roots

Additional great news came my way this week: I have been named Book Review Editor for Prime Number Magazine: A Journal of Distinctive Poetry & Prose. I’m particularly pleased to accept this position because it will allow me to participate in the dialogue surrounding small press publishers and their many offerings.

Some commentators would have readers believe that their favored activity is going out of style. No one’s doing it, they will tell you, and publishers are in trouble. It may be true that big publishing is a dinosaur from the not-so-distant past, but I’m an optimist about the future of reading. I believe people do still care about reading, and recent survey numbers bear this theory out. In a recent piece in The Atlantic Monthly, Alexis Madrigal wrote:

Remember the good old days when everyone read really good books, like, maybe in the post-war years when everyone appreciated a good use of the semi-colon? Everyone’s favorite book was by Faulkner or Woolf or Roth. We were a civilized civilization. This was before the Internet and cable television, and so people had these, like, wholly different desires and attention spans. They just craved, craved, craved the erudition and cultivation of our literary kings and queens.

Well, that time never existed. Check out these stats from Gallup surveys. In 1957, not even a quarter of Americans were reading a book or novel. By 2005, that number had shot up to 47 percent. I couldn’t find a more recent number, but I think it’s fair to say that reading probably hasn’t declined to the horrific levels of the 1950s.

Madrigal has some additional choice words for those pundits who are convinced (convinced, I tell you) that people read very little.

As for me? I’m excited to interact with readers and writers and to help good readers connect with great books. Prime Number Magazine is published by Press 53, an independent publishing house, and the magazine and its parent publisher sit squarely at the intersection of where the exciting business of writing and reading are happening.

This new role also allows me to return to my writing roots. I served as the Books Editor at The Capital Times newspaper for many years. Once again I will have the opportunity to get the word out about worthy books and their authors, and I’ll also have the chance to work with and edit writers who write the reviews. I’m giddy!

Please check out the magazine, which is published on a quarterly basis (next publication date is July 19) and consider signing up for email or Facebook updates. If you are an author or publicist who has a new book you’d like to pitch to me or if you are a student or graduate of an English program or related humanities program who would like to write a review for the magazine, please head over to the magazine and contact me through my email there. NOTE: As a rule, I will not consider self-published books. I know people say it’s the wave of the future, but with 250 small presses turning out excellent product on an annual basis, I feel I must focus on those institutions at this time.

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