A web portal where the "full range'' of modern literary offerings will be examined by readers debuted today, with a UC Riverside professor at the editor's desk.
The Los Angeles Review of Books unveiled the first phase of its online presence -- www.lareviewofbooks.org -- which is expected to expand into a virtual salon featuring interviews and forums with writers, critics, filmmakers and scholars, according to its sponsors.
"We are fighting back at a time when the book review as an institution has all but disappeared,'' said Tom Lutz, chair of the UCR Creative Writing Program and founding editor of the new website.
"Contrary to the notion that the literary arts are dying off, we believe a reading renaissance is under way in America,'' he said. "While the debate goes on about the public's commitment to reading, and newspapers continue to close down their review sections, book clubs are flourishing, blogs and literary social networking sites are proliferating, and eReaders and apps make reading available in new ways and to a new generation. The Los Angeles Review of Books will play a central role in that renaissance.''
According to Lutz, himself the author of four books, the complete LARB site, slated to premiere at year's end, will feature not only book reviews and essays, but an Internet Movie Database-style archive, a quarterly magazine and, eventually, a book publishing arm.
Lutz said all works -- fiction and nonfiction, poetry, memoir, philosophy, biography, sci-fi and children's -- will have a place on the portal, which will supply ample links to guide readers to wherever their preferences lead them.
"Like Los Angeles itself, LARB is a mash-up of elite and popular cultures, old and new, sunshine and noir, unafraid to embrace the full range of reading,'' the professor said.
Seed money for the new site was provided by the UCR College of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences, the Rosenthal Family Foundation, the UC Humanities Research Initiative and a number of private donors.
According to the LARB editorial staff, the site will pay "decent rates'' for reviews.
They're seeking an additional $700,000 in gifts, grants and donations to buttress the nascent nonprofit, which will eventually utilize click-through advertisements, syndication and subscriptions to sustain itself. --City News Service