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Critics Who May Not Yet Exist

Hi. Susan Tomaselli is taking a well-earned sabbatical from 3:AM this summer, so I’ll be stepping in as co-editor in chief, focusing on non-fiction. I’ve been commissioning for 3:AM since 2011, so some of you will know me, and will have worked with me already. But I’d like to say that, right now, I’m open for speculative pitches and submissions, and will be reading them continuously. So get in touch. I’ll be especially pleased to hear from you if you have an idea for an essay, interview or book review related to one of the following three areas, which I’m keen to increase our coverage of:

– Fiction in translation
– Contemporary American fiction, particularly work published by small presses
– Critical theory and continental philosophy

A brief word about book reviews: I love long-form criticism, and rarely impose word limits. As long as your writing is strong and self-consistent, I won’t ask you to simplify it for the sake of “accessibility.” Similarly, for fiction reviews, I don’t demand banal contextualization or plodding plot synopses. Online, the form and function of criticism are fair game for redefinition. I encourage criticism that is creative, unconventional, and that brings books into active collision with the lived experience of the critic. Of course, I’ll happily publish a thoughtful journalistic review. But if you’re willing to write something a little wilder, I’ll welcome it with open arms. If you’re wondering what I mean, here’s a favourite quote, from Geoffrey Hartman:

It is not an exaggeration to say that the critic has become a retainer to those in our society who want not the difficult reality but merely the illusion of literacy… if he becomes a journalist or reviewer he flatters, cajoles, and admonishes the authors of books whose profits keep the publishers happy and his own job relatively secure. The only critic, therefore, whom we must take seriously is one who may not yet exist: who overextends his art, having decided that his role is creative as well as judicious. The critic’s words should enter the world of art even as the arts and institutions he comments on have entered his. As the work of art is an event in the history of interpretation, so the work of interpretation is an event in the history of the work of art.

Thanks, and best wishes,
David Winters

First posted: Friday, May 17th, 2013.

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