* “The eBook – Déjà Vu All Over Again?” Make sure you read to at least the fourth full paragraph, which is where the punchline hits.
* “Before Sexting, There Was Polaroid: The arrival of instant film meant the end of snooping photo-lab technicians—which, in turn, homemade porn for everyone.”
* Women who drink; sounds like a fun essay collection.
* If “The Bipartisan Security Ratchet” doesn’t scare you, it should:
The United States government, under two opposed increasingly indistinguishable political parties, asserts the right to kill anyone on the face of the earth in the name of the War on Terror. It asserts the right to detain anyone on the face of the earth in the name of the War on Terror, and to do so based on undisclosed facts applied to undisclosed standards in undisclosed locations under undisclosed conditions for however long it wants, all without judicial review.
* Someone found this blog by searching for “pretentious fountain pens.” I would be more interested in an unpretentious fountain pen, if such a thing is possible in this age of rollerballs. Another person found it, although I doubt what they’re looking for, via “fucking asshole girl.”
* “Former NFL cheerleader, teen reportedly find ‘happiness.’” When I was in high school, I doubt I had a tenth of the game this kid must have.
The Millions: There is a formula for criticism in the piece which says that knowledge + taste = meaningful judgment, with an emphasis on meaningful. What makes a critique meaningful? As you point out, a lot of people have opinions who are not really critics and there are lots of people who are experts on subjects who don’t write good criticism. If everyone is not really a critic, where is the magic?
DM: It’s a very interesting question. It is magic, it’s a kind of alchemy. We all have opinions, and many people have intelligent opinions. But that’s not the same. Nor is it the case that great experts are good critics. I come out of an academic background so I’m very familiar with that end of the spectrum of knowledge. I spent a lot of my journalistic career as a professional explainer of the Classics—when I first started writing whenever there was some Greek toga-and-sandals movie they would always call me in—so I developed the sense of what it means to mediate between expertise and accessibility.
Notice that word: “meaningful.” It’s not whether a critical take is positive or negative, good or bad; it’s above that, or beyond it, or some other spatial-reckoning metaphor. This is also what I strive to offer when I read my friends’ work, whether fiction or non.