Recently I was at an event where an author commented that the only place she could read decent book reviews these days was in the Times Literary Supplement. As she continued it became apparent that she was talking about book reviews in general and not just fiction, however, it is reviews of fiction that I want to discuss.
I can really sympathise with what this speaker was saying. If it wasn’t for the blogging community I would be hard pressed to find thoughtful assessment of newly published novels. I rely almost entirely on the opinions and judgements of those bloggers whose posts I read regularly and whose views I have come to respect and value. Publications like the TLS and The London Review of Books give very little space to fiction and although it’s sometime since I took The Literary Review I seem to remember that the same was true of that as well. The weekend broadsheets offer some assistance but they seem to be paying less and less attention to the fictional world. There was a time when I could sit down on a Saturday afternoon with the review section of the Guardian and a whole Times section devoted just to books and seep myself in whatever was going on in fiction land, but the former is not what it was and the latter is now long gone.
When it first came out NewBooks Magazine was very good but I gave up on that when it seemed to lose its independence and became a voice for whatever publisher was prepared to offer books as giveaways. Perhaps it has found its way back to a more objective stance. Does anyone know? Waterstones used to publish a helpful quarterly magazine but that has gone as well. I find this remarkable, especially given the number of book groups there are out there. People are reading fiction wherever you turn. You would have thought there was a real market for a magazine devoted to offering those readers the very best advice going, but unless I’m missing something that certainly doesn’t appear to be the case.
So that is my question to you all. Am I missing something? And if so, what? All suggestions will be very gratefully received.