David L. Ulin's choice as Book Editor of the L.A. Times is starting to get good blog reviews. Mark Sarvas at The Elegant Variation wishes him the best, writing: "We approve. We like David, we like his work." He also offers Ulin ten ways to improve the LAT Book Review. Tod Goldberg posts:
"This isn't an all together surprising choice, but I believe it to be the right one. Ulin is a strong writer, a keen reviewer and, for lack of a better term, seem[s] to get it, whatever it might be. And on a personal level, whenever I've been in his acquaintance, which has occurred a number of times over the last several years, I've found him to be nice, which, well, while not on the cutting edge of personal criticism seems like a worthy enough thing from my seat at the table."
In the Times' own story today by media writer James Rainey, Ulin's bosses—Deputy Managing Editor John Montorio and Associate Editor Tim Rutten—say he will be empowered to completely make-over LAT book coverage. There's also a little reportorial dig at the ex-editor, Steve Wasserman:
"I think that the review will remain urbane and sophisticated, but we want it to be far more accessible and far more attuned to what is really hot in the book world," Montorio said. "We want to be dealing with books that people are really going to want to go out and read"....
"The fact he was asked to do the authoritative L.A. anthology by a prestigious mainstream publishing house and by California's oldest literary press tells you a little something about his reach," said Tim Rutten, associate editor of The Times' feature sections. "That's why he was such an appealing choice for this job."
Wasserman had been credited with bringing respect, and a number of top-name critics, to Book Review's pages during his nine-year tenure. But some readers inside and outside the paper complained that Book Review could be arcane or fixated on topics that appealed to a narrow readership.
One Sunday section, for instance, focused solely on writing related to the Spanish Civil War.
Ulin says in the piece that he plans to focus more on fiction and will build "on the foundation that is already there to open it up and make it as energetic and engaged as possible....I would like to have a Book Review that is fairly fluid and responsive to the culture, a review that treats books seriously but has fun treating them seriously, if that makes any sense."
Previously: Ulin is LAT Book Editor