Monday, November 10, 2008

The Books We Love, Love Us Back

The book world lost a great advocate late last week when John Leonard passed away on November 5th. The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) blog, Critical Mass, describes Leonard in appropriately glowing terms as an "incomparable critic and mentor to many, supporter of books and writers new and not so new, long time New York Times Book Review editor and critic, and a founding member of the National Book Critics Circle." That same post contains links to other examples of Leonard's work.

Leonard's well-known quote below is from his remarks accepting the NBCC Sandrof award for lifetime achievement in 2006:
The books we love, love us back. In gratitude, we should promise not to cheat on them -- not to pretend we're better than they are; not to use them as target practice, agit-prop, trampolines, photo ops or stalking horses; not to sell out scruple to that scratch-and-sniff info-tainment racket in which we posture in front of experience instead of engaging it, and fidget in our cynical opportunism for an angle, a spin, or a take, instead of consulting compass points of principle, and strike attitudes like matches, to admire our wiseguy profiles in the mirrors of the slicks. We are reading for our lives, not performing like seals for some fresh fish.

1 comment:

Harvey said...

Thanks for the post, Gwen.