It’s a little bit of a shame that the phrase “link check” or the compound “linkcheck” has been appropriated by the (very sensible) endeavor of making sure that one’s hyperlinks are well-formed and current. I appreciate valid linking as much as the next person, but I was hoping I could coin the term to apply to what Jordon calls “contextless links,” or for the inclination to make explicit reference to other online writers when the occasion presents itself (by analogy to “namecheck”).

Anyway, I wanted to linkcheck Scott McLemee’s review (which points to the New York Magazine review) of Pierre Bayard’s How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read. The reviews and the book itself sound partly right, partly elliptically determined by an unspeakable aversion to saying directly what they’re trying to get at.

And this morning’s Dilbert cartoon captures the thought that more than once has flashed through my mind when I heard someone enthuse about “innovation.”

Joe observes:

AKMA, I thought the NY Times Magazine mini-interview with Bayard was clarifying in ways that their interviews usually are not. Of course, I haven’t read his book, though I feel qualified to talk about it. We all read in various ways & for various purposes. Teaching literature & creative writing, my experience suggests that students need to be taught to read in a more selfish & predatory & cannibalistic way. As opposed to the classical, passive model based on absorption. So, without having read Bayard’s book, I am willing to praise it.

Joe Duemer

[Thanks, Joe. That’s a good addition to the list. I myself “read” many books by reading their reviews — though I love the languorous self-indulgence of a long, slow, exhilarating commitment to read every word of a worthwhile book. Bayard’s definitely onto something when he points out that “ if you want to (read from the first line to the last line) with some books, it’s necessary to skim other books” and “between reading and nonreading there is an indeterminate space that is quite important.”]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *