Are Book Reviews “Advertising Posing As Criticism?”

Heidi Julavits has largely given up on book reviews. In an essay in the new magazine Believer, she writes: “Maybe it’s simply that book reviews have devolved to a point where they function as little more than advertising posing as criticism; the only books likely to be ratified by critical coverage are the books that promise to be ratified by the marketplace.” Critic Bob Hoover takes offense: “The newspaper book editors I know, me included, have never written or run a review of rearranged copy cribbed from a press release or looked at the best-seller list as a source of recommendations, those titles ‘ratified by the marketplace’.”