Washington Post Book World
I began reading Book World when it was brand new and part of my hometown newspaper, The Washington Post. Of course, we also subscribed to the Evening Star, but it vanished long ago.
And now, Book World is gone, at least as a separate entity, a pull-out like the NY Times Book Review. But it is not gone from my house.
I have about a hundred unread copies. When we moved to Knoxville in 1978, there were few bookstores. I took to calling the bus station on Sunday around noon to find out whether the Post had made it onto the bus. On some mornings, it didn’t, and forget daily issues; it only came in on Sundays. If it was there, I would hustle downtown into desultory Sunday-afternoon Knoxville and get my dose. When we moved to Honolulu (remember those pre-Internet days, anyone?) I could get a copy at a downtown bookstore, about three blocks from where I lived, on Wednesdays. That was the earliest that the Sunday paper would get there.
For years, my parents bought me an annual subscription to Book World, but at some point that option also vanished. My father saved up his Book Worlds and sent them to me in batches. It is from those batches that I now periodically draw.
This is actually a good thing for me. I am easily enthralled by a good review, and I have many bought-new hardcovers that still languish–oh, they *must* be languishing–unread on my shelves, waiting for the Infinite Free Time At The End Of The World (there are many movies I intend to watch then, too). Now, when I read an enticing review, the double-edged sword of cheap books comes into play. The books I want are only a dollar or less. Sigh.
It is, however, a delight to read Michael Dirda’s old columns; he can *always* sell me a book.
I think I closed out the Fantasy & Science Fiction column, which was monthly for some years, with a column of my own, published just a few weeks or months before Book World’s fadeout. I used to review for the Tampa Tribune, the Orlando Sentinal, the SF Eye, and other publications, and I’m quite a fan of the Art of the Review. A good review, in my opinion, should be a delicious piece of writing in and of itself.
Of course, the Post still runs reviews; they are just folded into the Style section.
Tom Lutz, one of my interviewers for the professorial post at UC Riverside and the author of the fine book DOING NOTHING, among others, is starting an online Los Angeles Review of Books. Bravo, Tom!