Nancy Pearl Interviews A.O. Scott

Librarian Nancy Pearl knows a thing or two about reviewing which adds extra interest to her interview with A. O. Scott, chief film critic for The New York Times. In the latest episode of her Book Lust Author Interview show, Nancy weighs what Scott says about films against what she knows about books.

9781594204838_caf64His book, Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth (PRH/Penguin; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample), addresses criticism itself as well as the process of being a critic.

In the interview, Scott and Nancy talk about the importance of criticism and contrast movie and book reviewing (he’s done both). He maintains the fundamental difference has to do with scale.

With the huge number of titles released in a year, book critics tend to focus on a narrow segment, literary novels and serious nonfiction. There are far fewer movies, so film critics can see a great many in the course of a year. As a result, they can cover a wider range of genres and have a broader perspective on what is interesting and valuable.

He also notes that book reviewing, since so much of it is done by other authors with vested interests, can be incestuous.

His own book is getting of attention. How could it not,  as a comment on criticism for other critics to take on?

In what could be called an incestuous action of its own, Scott’s own publication, the NYT runs a strong review by Michael Wood. The Atlantic does not agree, saying the book “says nothing.” The New Yorker, LA Times, Slate, and The Millions have all weighed in as well.

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