Book Reviewing

If you’re looking for some pointers on book reviewing, click on over to Critical Mass, the excellent (and still relatively new) blog from the National Book Critics Circle. As contributor John Freeman noted last week, John Updike’s own six rules for reviewing, though now more than 30 years old, still offer an excellent guide to ethical reviewing practices.

Jim Lehrer at Harvard

It’s Commencement time this week here in Cambridge. Which means it’s Reunion time, too. Which means I’m going to spend the next couple days catching up with old friends and not spending very much time at the computer at all.

But if you want some writing-related material in the meantime, you might read the speech journalist Jim Lehrer delivered at Harvard’s Commencement yesterday. His main point was more about politics than writing (consider that fair warning) but there are plenty of writing-related tidbits included. I especially like Lehrer’s own guidelines on the practice of journalism (starting with “Do nothing I cannot defend” and “Cover, write and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me”).

Have a great weekend.

Changes at The Danforth Review

The Danforth Review, an online journal based in Canada, has revised its publication/submission policies. Beginning in September, they’ll publish four new short stories every three months (September, December, March and June). They’ll receive/review submissions in the month prior to publication (in other words, August, November, February, and May, respectively). For more information, check the new guidelines. Accepts simultaneous submissions (identify as such when submitting); looks for unpublished work only; pays $100 (CDN) for a short story. “International submissions are encouraged.”

Submission Materials Sought

Still have copies of your successful cover letters, query letters, synopses, or related materials? The Writers Institute is looking for such items to reprint in its annual market directories. Buys one-time print rights and unlimited electronic rights. Pays $25. See the announcement at

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman

Among the many items in yesterday’s New York Times that are likely to appeal especially to writers (it was tough for me to decide which front-page Arts section article to read first: the review of Neil Hanson’s Unknown Soldiers: The Story of the Missing of the First World War, or the John Updike profile) you should have caught Michael Winerip’s “On Education” piece, “It’s a Tough Life, to Live It and to Write It, but It Just Got a Little Better.” The article describes teenager Jessica Atkinson, a remarkable writer, and her remarkable teacher, Rene Miles. Prediction: Jessica Atkinson will have a book out one day, and probably one day in the not-too-distant future.