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Los Angeles Review of Books Launched


Los Angeles Review of Books Launched

UC Riverside’s Tom Lutz creates literary review with West Coast perspective.

(May 4, 2011)

Tom LutzEnlarge

Tom Lutz

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB) has launched a preview site, the first step in the two-phase launch of an online source of book reviews from a West Coast perspective. Created by author Tom Lutz, chair of UC Riverside’s Department of Creative Writing, LARB responds to the decline of newspaper book-review sections and the growing diversity of literature produced outside the sphere of traditional, New York-based publishers.

The preview site – www.lareviewofbooks.org – features essays, book reviews, and interviews from prestigious writers, critics, artists, filmmakers and scholars. The launch of LARB’s official website will follow in late 2011. The complete site will include reviews and essays, reader discussion forums, video of author interviews and events, and an Internet Movie Database (IMDB)- style archival reference database for the book world. A quarterly print magazine and a book publishing venture will follow. The full website is being designed and will be maintained by Ted Perez Associates, a web design and creative advertising agency based in Venice, Calif.

“People have been complaining since the 19th century, first about the Boston stranglehold on the publishing world, then New York,” Lutz said. “We have a different perspective on publishing in Southern California.”

From a practical standpoint for consumers, the selection of books available today is daunting –approximately 1 million new titles published in 2010, up from 55,000 in 1980, primarily the result of self-published and electronic books. “The book review is an important American literary institution,” Lutz said. “How do people know what’s worth reading?”

LARB will accept pitches from small publishers and university presses, and will embrace genres that often get short shrift, such as mysteries and thrillers, science fiction and graphic novels, Lutz said. Contributing editors include some of the most distinguished writers and thinkers in many fields.

“Contrary to the notion that the literary arts are dying off, we believe a reading renaissance is under way in America,” he said. “While the debate goes on about the public’s commitment to reading and newspapers continue to close down their review sections, book clubs are flourishing, blogs and literary social networking sites are proliferating, and eReaders and apps make reading available in new ways and to a new generation. The Los Angeles Review of Books will play a central role in that renaissance.”

LARB is funded by donations (through the LARB Fund at the UCR Foundation), online advertising, and click-through sales of books and other products. “If this works as I hope it does, I think it will be a significant public service, making the best literature and scholarship available to a general audience,” Lutz said. "We already have readers in all 50 states and 90 countries around the world. We are on our way."

The preview site – which Lutz said is not the Los Angeles Review of Books “in all its glory,” rather an “evolving window upon our full site’s development “ – offers a number of LARB essays and reviews and is updated daily. Among the featured reviews so far – Ben Ehrenreich on the death of the book, Geoff Nicholson on Buster Keaton, Jane Smiley on Nancy Mitford, Richard Prince on Miroslav Tichý, and Jefferson Hunter on Ross Macdonald and oil spills.

LARB’s collective of contributing editors have won a number of Pulitzer Prizes, National and American Book Awards, PEN Awards, and many other distinctions. Current contributing editors include T.C. Boyle, Jane Smiley, Jeffrey Eugenides, Michael Pollan, Barbara Ehrenreich, Kevin Starr, Greil Marcus, James Franco, Manuel Castells, Antonio Damasio, Mike Davis, John Rechy, Reza Aslan, Chris Abani, Joe Sacco, Jonathan Gold, Carolyn See, Janet Fitch, Yiyun Li, Jane Smiley, Christopher Rice, Eric Lax, Richard Prince, and Jonathan Lethem.



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