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What Took So Long?

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I gotta say that I agree with Ron at Galleycat in regards to the timing of New York Times book reviews. He points out that the newspaper just ran Walter Kirn’s critical review of James Frey’s Bright Shining Morning yesterday.

“I do believe there’s a good argument to be made for being able to consider a book, and render a critical assessment, at one’s own pace, without concerning oneself with publication dates and retail windows of opportunity,” Ron writes. And I agree with him. But Kirn’s piece on the new Frey novel, published more than a month after the book was released, just makes me wonder why they bothered.

Bright Shiny Morning isn’t on the bestseller list. It’s not in the top 100 of Amazon. Aside from one friend of mine who was reading it at the pool this past holiday weekend, I’ve heard a sum total of zero people discussing it recently. So I just don’t understand why the editors felt the need for someone to comment on it now.

It would have been much more helpful for Kirn’s criticisms to have been published earlier in order to balance out Times reviewer Janet Maslin’s praise back on May 12. That way, at least a reader (and potential customer) could have seen both perspectives before picking up the text. Granted, Maslin was one of the few critics who liked the book so a diligent reader could have found plenty of negative reviews prior to plopping down their $26.95. But still. If a publication is going to produce a pro-con method of review, it would help to having the timing down.