Publishing’s Culture of Positive


Recently, Jessa Crispin shocked the literary world by announcing she would be closing Bookslut, the literary blog she started fourteen years ago. Since then she has stirred some controversy, calling the Paris Review “boring as fuck” (the Paris Review took the critique in stride, offering a 10% discount with the code BORINGASFUCK) and attacking online literary culture for being overly positive.

Over at Lit Hub, Bethanne Patrick admits that she might be the very problem Crispin has with publishing. Patrick has blogged for AOL, Publishers Weekly, and now writes for Lit Hub, a website partnered with numerous publishers. However, book “cheerleading” isn’t necessarily the problem:

Crispin is wrong, however, because, as I said, positive reviews are part of criticism. They can be literature in and of themselves—and that’s the thread I think we’ve all dropped in the past couple of decades, that book reviews and book criticism and critical analysis are not just part of the publishing-industry editorial to PR to marketing to sales flow chart; they’re part of our overall cultural conversation, part of what ties all kinds of literature to other areas of research, endeavor, and creation. It’s a conversation, not a funnel; a debate, not a neatly packaged web page.

Crispin released The Dead Ladies Project last year and has a new book on feminism planned with Melville House.

Ian MacAllen's fiction has appeared in 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, Joyland Magazine, and elsewhere and nonfiction has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, The Negatives, Electric Literature, Fiction Advocate, and elsewhere. He is the Deputy Editor of The Rumpus, holds an MA in English from Rutgers University, tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →