A couple weeks ago the Times Book Review complained that a book of nonfiction conflated two dates into one. This week, it reviews David Shields’s Reality Hunger, and has this to say, paraphrasing Shields:
After all, just because the novel is food for worms doesn’t mean that fiction has ceased. Only an artificial dualism would treat every non-novel as if it were reportage or court testimony, and only a fear of the slipperiness of life could perpetuate the cult of the back story.
So which is it, NYTBR? Is nonfiction’s liberation from fact an inevitability from the decline of the novel, or does it damage a writer’s moral authority, as Charles Bock argued in your pages two weeks ago? Maybe it’s a bad idea to demand critical consistency from a reviewing organ, but what’s such an organ’s editor’s job, exactly?
Below is a photograph I took of my friend Steven last night. More insectile than cervine. I’ll need to work on the scale in possible future pics.