I’m not sure what is the funniest thing I’ve heard today: Monica Goodling’s statements in front of the Judiciary Commitee or this comment by Sheila Kohler, who’s just published a historical novel:
Q. Does your work get reviewed/discussed much on literary blogs? If so, how do those reviews compare with print reviews of your books?
A.Occasionally someone may mention my books in a blog. I believe the dangers of this indiscriminate reporting on books is that people who have no knowledge of literature can air their views as though they were of value and may influence readers. Critics may not always be right, of course, but at least they have read and studied literature, the great books, and have some outside knowledge to refer to when critiquing our work.
Well, I’m suitably humbled. In fact, as a mere blogger, I’m not worthy of even peeking inside this novel, much less reading it. And I would certainly hate to soil this author’s pristine royalty check with my filthy blogger money. So I’ll keep my grubby mitts off it.
But Kohler has a point. The problem is, however, that indiscriminate reporting on books often starts with indiscriminate reading of books. So to nip this problem in the bud, I suggest that booksellers band together to form a rating system under which only customers with certain academic credentials would be allowed to buy certain books. Books rated “P,” for instance, could be sold only to people with M.F.A’s in creative writing from Ivy League and Seven Sisters colleges and universities. Books rated “O” could be sold only to people with M.F.A.’s in creative writing from other colleges. And so forth, down to the unwashed masses of people who buy books because they like a good story, who could read books rated “G.”
This method isn’t foolproof (credentials could be falsified, and some booksellers might not participate), but it’s a step toward making sure Real Literature gets only in the right hands.