Today I celebrate two years of my blog’s existence. Big changes have come to Pseudo-Intellectual Reviews since I began, most of them since the new year and the latest, tragically, just yesterday. In February I was hired to the website Media Snobs. That line of work is no more. The site has been taken down by an outside force and everyone involved is now out of a job. The staff are showing great solidarity through this reviewer’s apocalypse and the possibility of a new site rising from the ashes is very real.
The five reviews I contributed are safe (I had backed them up on Wordpad previously) and last night I added their complete texts to Pseudo-Intellectual Reviews, since they now have no other place to reside on the web.
I am now at loose ends, as before, only somewhat sadder. However, even though I was only able to work there for a few short months, the experience has changed me deeply. For a moment I was able to call myself a professional and my writing was vetted by a talented and helpful editor. The work I did there has fired up all of my hitherto dormant ambitions.
I was previously content as a hobbyist, drifting through life and maybe reviewing a book every few weeks. I paid no attention to the literary world and would stumble upon new books by accident – usually by reading the blog of someone more in-the-know, like John Self over on Asylum. Now everything has changed. I’ve shed my apathy and am keeping up on the new and forthcoming. The bi-weekly posting that was required of me has done a lot to help me learn the rhythm of reviewing, how to pick up the pace, strategize and organize.
I don’t feel in a celebratory mood, frankly, but I have to be. My blog is still here and my stuff still has a home on the web. Compared to others, I’ve lost very little and have much to be grateful for. However, this is also one hell of a spur to BACK UP ALL MY REVIEWS in about five separate locations.
So, what does this really entail for me? The wind is thoroughly out of my sails but I can’t allow that to last. I must rally and continue to forge ahead toward an ideal upgrade in my blog’s content. The casual approach is to take each month as it comes, reviewing whatever seems like a good idea at the time. The professional approach is to step away from the month and focus on the quarter (right now is the middle of the spring quarter), planning for an ideal spread of reviews to appear over the course of that time.
The subtitle of this blog has always said “Essays and Reviews.” I’m going to step up to the plate and actually deliver the former, as well as the latter. One essay per quarter will allow me to get through my Harvard Project at a slightly faster pace and spur me on to the launch of some shorter projects that have long been on my radar.
My main focus at this time will mostly be to plan ahead and build up a backlog of reviews. With such a store, I would be able to stop worrying about a dearth of content and occasionally read long books again (right now, Ada deserves my complete attention and how will I ever read Ulysses or Mason & Dixon if I’m always stressing over my next review?). I’m only one person, of course, but I will do the best I can.
Other things you can expect:
I am now on GoodReads, though mostly to use its to-be-read feature. You can socialize with me if you want. I doubt I’ll post my reviews there, unless specially requested. On that note, I recently got my first ever request for a review, by a self-published translator of Russian poets. I am now brushing up on my Anna Akhmatova in preparation.
The majority of reviews here will always be of fiction but I enjoy reading poetry and will aim to review at least one volume of it in each quarterly period. I’d like to do the same with literary criticism. These things add a little diversity to my obsession with literature.
Karate Chop by Dorthe Nors, a story collection that only occasionally impressed me.
The Plato Papers by Peter Ackroyd, which turns out to be rather better than I expected.
Three Brothers by Peter Ackroyd.
Journey to Karabakh by Aka Morchiladze. I hope to acquire and review the other three books in Dalkey Archive’s Georgian Literature Series as well, provided I can scrape the cash together.
The Lime Twig by John Hawkes. I read it just before starting this blog and remember being staggered. I would like to revisit it and put it on the site.
The Old Gringo by Carlos Fuentes. The most popular post on Pseudo-Intellectual Reviews? Aura. One of my least favorite reviews, incidentally. I think its popularity has something to do with flummoxed students and reading assignments…
Constancia and Other Stories for Virgins by Carlos Fuentes.
The Wanderer by Knut Hamsun. One of the perils of secondhand bookshopping is getting introduced to great writers by their minor works. I already read the incredibly slight and cheerful (???) Dreamers and this is the only other Hamsun I have at hand…
Things are up in the air at this dour point in time. What the future brings I do not know. I will forge ahead to the extent possible and see where things go. It’s most important not to lose momentum. Thank you to all my readers on this second anniversary.