Lorentzen’s bracing article about book reviews

Christian Lorentzen’s passionate “Like This or Die” Harpers Magazine article (you may well find it behind a paywall) laments what he sees as the passing of the opinionated, serious-minded book reviewer in favor of the new world of Spotify-like, Netflix-like algorithms and lists and review-bites. I admired this article and can sympathise with it, and I continue to visit more “esoteric” review sites, but at the most basic level, I can’t agree with Lorentzen.

Well, I can give his stance a tick but at the same time must recuse myself, for this site, Read Listen Watch, is probably everything he despises. I make no excuses. What I like to do is select culture, mostly culture I suspect I’m going to enjoy but also “stuff I should check out” of “shit it’ll be good for me to examine,” and to consume that culture and then provide pithy reviews (which in my case I define as markers for other intelligent culture fiends), including (and this is no doubt anathema to Lorentzen) a rating number. I mean well and I don’t hesitate to rate something as 3/10 or 9/10, with no pressure from other critics or the masses. I’m appreciative of others’ similarly styled reviews and I believe I’m doing the world a service. And my form of “reviewing” pumps exhilarated blood through my veins.

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