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Web Monitor

15:15 UK time, Monday, 8 February 2010

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Today in Web Monitor: confessions of a recluse's gatekeeper, why we love a good fight and the economics of reading.

JD Salinger.jpg• Every good celebrity recluse, it appears as staff to help them, well, reclude. One such gatekeeper, Joanna Smith Rakoff maps out the job in Slate. She remembers her reluctant role replying to JD Salinger's fan mail with polite rejections:

"We were Salinger's gatekeepers - charged with protecting his life and work - but in order to do so, we had to buy into the mythology that had sprung up around the man, too. We had to believe that Salinger's privacy was the most important thing in the world, to be protected at all costs. And in order to make this leap of faith, we needed to believe that Salinger, as his fans insisted in the letters I fielded daily, was the greatest writer of the 20th century. It was an honor I wasn't willing to bestow."

• Having written a protester's handbook, Bibi van der Zee says she gets accused of only being interested in protests when a fight breaks out. In the New Statesman she looks at why violence is so interesting:

"Anyone who has ever seen a fight break out and has an honest streak in their body will admit that, at some level, they just wanted to stand and gawp. There is a moment in a bar, or at a gig, or at a protest, when anything could happen. When violence begins to break its way up through the concrete, suddenly everything you know about people is useless and that isfascinating. Frightening, upsetting and terrifying in the way it can spiral out of control, in the way that violence breeds more violence, more anger and pain. But fascinating, too."

• A debate has been started on the web after Martin Amis revealed in an interview with Prospect magazine, mentioned in Web Monitor, that he doesn't read younger authors' work. His theory goes that time is yet to tell if their work is any good and he isn't prepared to risk wasting his time on a bad book.
Norm Geras in his blog Normblog disagrees with this method of selecting your reading:

"It's possible to enjoy a book, come to think of it, that may not stand the test of the ages. So what if it doesn't? You can read those that do as well."

Ian Lesley in his blog Marbury thinks time is too short, so is on Martin Amis's side:
"So what you need is a way of reliably predicting which books you'll enjoy most (or at least minimising the inevitable unreliability of any strategy). The test of time - of previous readers - is the best predictive test available to us (and no, I don't feel bad about free-riding off other people's 'work' in this instance)."

Links in full

SlateJoanna Smith Rakoff |Slate | My adventures answering J.D. Salinger's mail
New StatesmanBibi van der Zee | New Statesman | Why we all love a fight
NormblogNorman Geras | Normblog | Rules for reading

MarburyIan Leslie | Marbury | The economics of reading

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