When we head to our favorite book review sites, it's safe to assume we want to know what the deal is with all the top books out at that moment. Whether it's the newest Harry Potter ripoff or the new Malcolm Gladwell, whatever's big, we want to know whether it blows or is a modern day masterpiece. (And we especially want to know if a masterpiece ends up being something you'd rather use as a paperweight.)
But, someone needs to tell BuzzFeed's new books editor this.
Isaac Fitzgerald, the editor in question, has just come out as saying that his stint on BuzzFeed will be guided by the "Bambi rule," meaning, "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all." Well, that's precious, but isn't that taking out a big part of comes naturally with a book editor's job? Fitzgerald says that old media focuses on scathing reviews, and he doesn't want any part of that. In Fitzgerald's world, he'll be the equivalent of a Mary Poppins that reviews books, while BuzzFeed Books will be filled with unicorns and rainbows, an Imaginationland, if you will.
"Why waste breath talking smack about something?" he says. "You see it in so many old media-type places, the scathing takedown rip." Fitzgerald said people in the books community "understand that about books, that it is something that people have worked incredibly hard on, and they respect that. The overwhelming online books community is a positive place."
Oh, and Fitzgerald is a former publicist. So, there's that.
All this brings up the obvious question: how are we supposed to know what books we should stay away from, and which ones they just haven't got around to reviewing yet? Hey, if someone writes a horrible book, call them out on it. You don't have to be scathing, but that's part of the job. Roger Ebert got famous for intelligently criticizing movies with his reviews, but not out of hate for the filmmakers or some ingenious plot to get richâ€”he did it out of love for the craft. Create discussion, don't limit it for yourself.
Better yet, go down to the library and be the judge.