Private: The Atlantic: “we’re not the New York Times Book Review”

About Last Night’s Our Girl in Chicago approves of the editorial candor in the latest issue of The Atlantic. Of the magazine’s approach to book reviews, she quotes Benjamin Schwarz as saying:

We assume that our readers look to this section as a critical organ rather than a news source—which means that unlike, say, The New York Times Book Review, we don’t have to cover the waterfront. For example, we chose not to review Pat Barker’s latest, because although she’s an important novelist we admire, her most recent book happens to be very far from her best effort. Its review, we reasoned, would be unfavorable but, since it would also point to her obvious talent, would hardly be an evisceration; in other words, it would almost necessarily be equivocal and boring (that good novelists so often produce less than stellar novels largely accounts for the fact that fiction reviews are so often politely qualified and, well, dull).