The Day the LAT Book Review Died

Last LA Times Book Review
The last stand-alone LAT Book Review, on July 27, 2008, with Doris Lessing on the cover

In the spring of last year, we lamented the shrinking of the LA Times Book Review. We waxed poetic about waking up on Sunday mornings to get our paper. We lovingly detailed thumbing through the big hulk of Sunday newsiness and adverstising to pull out our favorite part of the paper: the Book Review.
We were deeply saddened, all those months ago, by the merging of our favorite section with the Opinion section. It was rough-going, but at least we had a book section to read then.

Now, D-Day is upon us. Fling open your front doors and gather up your Sunday papers in quiet reverence, as today is the last day of the Sunday LA Times Book Review as we know it. From now on, book reviews will be published in the calendar section along with restaurant openings, happy hour listings and movie times. That's right - the paper that hosts the largest annual book festival in the world, is cutting its book review section down to a nub.

We have followed the latest news about the LAT cuts and firings in grim silence. We have read other LA coverage with much interest and hand-wringing, and we've carefully considered the detailed analysis of what it all means in Inside Higher Ed. We were even heartened by the letter from four former LAT Book Editors that chronicled all that is wrong with this ridiculous decision.

We are no longer wistful, we are no longer wishing for a better book review fate or wondering how it all went awry. We are angry and we will read today's last proper Book Review with the pages clenched tightly and our heads shaking furiously in disgust. We will be reminded of this important point, lifted directly from the letter that Steve Wasserman, Sonja Bolle, Digby Diehl and Jack Miles wrote a few days ago:

"Angelenos in growing number are already choosing to cancel their subscriptions to the Sunday Times. The elimination of the Book Review, a philistine blunder that insults the cultural ambition of the city and the region, will only accelerate this process and further wound the long-term fiscal health of the newspaper.

We urge readers and writers alike to join with us as we protest this sad and backward step."

Say it with us: philistine blunder, philistine blunder, philistine blunder...