Wasserman is Out

LA Observed is reporting that Steve Wasserman has resigned as editor of the Book Review.

There since 1996, he informed his staff on Friday, after having a
discussion with editor John Carroll about his waning independence.
Wasserman has been known to be unhappy about the level of scrutiny he
receives from Deputy Managing Editor John Montorio and Associate Editor
of Features Tim Rutten. Some sources say the meeting with Carroll was
essentially an ultimatum, with Wasserman needing to hear that he would
be free to run the Book Review as he saw fit. He didn’t hear that, so
he resigned and reportedly has "irons in the fire," but no other job
yet.  His last day
officially is said to be May 13.

This will come as sad news to all those insomniacs who have been using the Book Review as a sure-fire sleeping pill for the last few years. Speaking of which, The Elegant Variation conducted another brilliant autopsy today of Sunday’s D.O.A. edition of the LATBR.

we’re pleased as punch to be home again and not even
another bland outing of the LA Times Book Review can diminish that.
Bs and Cs abound but there are a few precipitous plunges and a general
air of "so what?" hanging over the proceedings.  Only one AI ALERT
(that’s for Authorial Intrusion) of note, and no real home runs this
week.  OK, on to the grades, as we type betwixt yawns..

I especially liked Mark’s dissection of  Yxta Maya Murray’s review of Isabel Allende’s Zorro.

[The] breathless review of the Allende is just awful …
Overwrought, overstated, overcooked … Murray can’t resist pointing out that
she’s read Nietzsche (he’s mentioned three times) …. and her review casts a
light on another reviewing pet peeve that, although hardly unique to LAT, runs
rampant here.  She writes:

"Until that moment [when Diego fights with Moncada] Diego had not been
conscious of his dual personality," Allende writes so piquantly of her
character.  "[O]ne part Diego de la Vega, elegant, affected, hypochondriac, and
the other part El Zorro, audacious, daring, playful.  He supposed that his true
character lay somewhere in between."

That is "so piquantly"?  It hardly strikes us as piquant – it rather feels a bit expository and heavy-handed.  For some reason, Times
reviewers seem to lack the ability to select passages to quote that
appropriately support their critical judgments.  We see this all the
time, and remain baffled that this sort of thing doesn’t get smoothed
out in the editing process …

Let’s hope the editing process, and everything else about the LATBR,
undergoes a massive overhaul under the new editor. Wouldn’t it be great
to have a vibrant, entertaining, challenging, thoughtful and relevant
Book Review in LA again?

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