Dear subscribers and signers-in to Book Post (if you don’t understand the distinction, see below),
I am wrestling with my purpose here at my desk, as the world careens into an unprecedented piece of history as if into an iceberg. I grew up at a time when history was (relatively, artificially) frozen, and the onslaught of events since we moved out of the thaw of the nineties has left me disoriented. Maybe an unfamiliarity with events on a large scale has made people of my generation ill-equipped to predict for them.
Anyway, I founded Book Post in order to create a lull in a hectic world that might help readers reconnect with enduring ideas. Now suddenly everyone who is not performing some vital civic function is at home, waiting for meaning. What to offer?
For want of a better alternative, I’ll revert to my mean, and turn to writers (of books, of posts) for their various answers. I wish I could frame the whole enterprise around the moment in a way that would seem focused and nourishing to you all. I will continue to try. I fault myself daily for not serving you well enough in various ways. There’s the editing, which takes up most of my consciousness, and yet somehow always wants more. And then there’s the whole effort to keep this afloat as a business, not as you know my area of expertise (if I can be said to have an area of expertise) and one where I always seem to be losing water (to continue with the maritime metaphors).
I’ve thought often about the tendency of an editor to live in a word-cocoon; I’ve wondered how to hear you better, to grow as an editor into a world in which writing isn’t all one-way. My training was all about making things perfect, and giving them to readers on a platter. Maybe you can tell me in the comments how you feel about this moment, and what you are looking for in someone editing for you now.
Meanwhile my pieces are on a lag. You are now seeing things that were mostly conceived weeks ago. But they were conceived in a spirit of understanding the world truthfully, and sharing understanding lovingly. That need does not go away. Perhaps this moment will help us to rebuild a sense of common destiny; and perhaps in one corner of that outcome a modest effort like Book Post will be buoyed.
It’s raining here in New York City. If only this were one of those movies where the problem is solved by rain, the gift from above. Maybe we have to find gifts from above on our own. I hope that by bringing you pieces by thoughtful people written from the heart, about books by people wrestling with big questions, I help you in some way to find those gifts. It’s not food or shelter or a hospital bed, but it’s what I have to offer. If you feel you can boost us at all, while people are at home looking for answers, please share. And thank you for reading. Good health to you all.
Your friend, remotely,
Ann Kjellberg, editor
Book Post is a newsletter-based book review designed to spread the pleasures and benefits of the reading life across a fractured media landscape. Our paying subscribers support our effort to provide income for writers and create a healthy digital media ecology.
Image: Plaque from a Reliquary Shrine, German, ca. 1186. Metropolitan Museum of Art