The outgoing L.A. Times Book Review editor may be considering life as a book agent, says Steven Zeitchik on the Publishers Weekly website. [That's confirmed now.] Also, Tim Rutten — the editor placed above Wasserman last year — confirmed for PW that the paper had some advance warning and has already interviewed some potential candidates, both from inside and out.
Rutten, who emphasized the choice "was entirely Steve's," called Wasserman's tenure "remarkable" and cautioned against taking for granted many of the changes he said Wasserman brought to the paper, primarily his introduction of more serious essays on serious books...
"There's probably never been a time in the history of the paper when the masthead of the paper were as committed to book reviewing, to book coverage, and all that goes with it." Rutten said many of Wasserman's changes would continue. "I don't think one should expect to see any of the strengths of the current review--which are considerable--frittered away."
But Rutten also left the door open for changes in direction. "The Times is a paper that believes in editors who have strong individual sensibilities and vision for their sections, and I think we can expect a new editor will be a different person than Steve," he said.
L.A. Observed broke the news of Wasserman's departure after confirming it Monday afternoon.
Blog reactions are starting to filter in. Here's an excerpt from Tod Goldberg:
Whomever takes over the top spot at the Review, be it someone like Nick Owchar, the acting deputy editor, whose reviews I've always found well-written and well-thought out (and who once had the indignity of moderating a panel I was on directly after I'd spent the previous 30 minutes vomiting across the UCLA campus as a result of some very bad Thai food the night previous) or someone from outside the paper, the onus will be on them to create a book review that manages to marry Wasserman's admittedly lofty literary goals with the public's very vocal desire to have a review they can actually read come Sunday morning. That means matching strong reviewers with strong books, understanding all the while that good authors aren't always good reviewers, and that fresh voices in all categories of the review would be a welcome change, especially as it relates to genre fiction. In short, relevance and importance befitting a book review in the nation's 2nd largest market.