Do you remember the Rail Readers? This week we address the passion for books and reading again. We interviewed the Italian blogger Gloria M. Ghioni, founder and admin of Critica Letteraria (Literary Criticism): a blog which is “followed by people who believe in the power of the words”, as it is written on its home page.
How did the blog start and what are the project goals?
Critica Letteraria was born in 2005 as a personal space to collect my impressions and notes about what I was reading. The blog as it is now started in 2008, when I and Laura, the other admin, decided to welcome new contributors, with the aim to publish one post every day, to guarantee our readers regular input. Compared to other blogs, ours is different because of the space we leave for emerging authors: we analyze their books and, if they get good rating, we write a review for free; in the case of particularly interesting authors, we offer them an interview for our section “Il Salotto” (The Salon). We also have more classical sections with reviews of contemporary works, bestsellers and invitations to read the classics. Then, let me mention the section called “I dimenticati” (The forgotten): from time to time we call the attention back on works which are now unjustly neglected by critics and publishers. Everything is faced seriously: we often suggest references for further information, but always keep an average style which allows non-specialist readers to go through our posts.
What about the editorial staff of the blog and the genres you review?
The staff is really heterogeneous, both as regards their provenance (even from the islands!) and their education: just take a look at the staff page (“La redazione”) to see that between us there are people who are studying or studied Philosophy, Economy, Literature, History of Art… As a consequence, we talk about many genres: we do not have any prejudice and we never limit our reviewers. We also accept handbooks reviews, if they are presented in an accessible, as well as precise, way.
Do you also take into consideration independent publishers?
Definitely. After the first experiences we keep on specializing in this area. We have accepted books from every possible publishing house. To be honest, we often discuss – even argue – about what to do with books by authors who decided to pay publishing fees to get their work published. In theory, we do not agree with this choice, even if we keep in mind the problems faced by publishing houses nowadays. Nonetheless, it happened that we read very interesting texts by authors who chose this kind of publishing process because of their disinformation or lack of self-confidence. So, how could we reject a work “a priori”? We are not classist, nor snobbish: we deal with authors, not with publishing houses. A special mention goes to those brave publishers who carry on high-quality projects, promoting emerging authors or publishing again the forgotten classics or minor works by greatest authors. We are preparing a new section in order to acknowledge these publishers.
Have you ever refused to review a book? How do you behave with low-quality “supermarket bestsellers”?
I have to confess that we have to refuse quite often. Usually we send an email to the author or the publisher (depending on who contacted us), explaining the reasons why we are not going to review the work: some of them take it diplomatically, others do not accept the refusal easily. As regards the so-called “supermarket bestsellers”, it depends: some of our reviewers never take them into consideration; personally, I think there is a book production (which is not literature) made to entertain, without any fanciful artistic ambitions. Sometimes I review this kind of books because of an engaging plot: the important point is to be clear and not to describe as masterpieces books which never had such high pretensions.
What does the blog offer other than reviews?
We have a section for interviews named “Il Salotto” (The Salon) where we collect the impressions of contemporary authors. From time to time we add reports from literary events, meetings with poets (between the others, let me mention Patrizia Valduga) and writers (Tiziano Scarpa, Sebastiano Vassalli) or interesting seminars all around Italy.
Any future plans?
Luckily, the good audience and the increasing staff will allow us to open new sections in the next few months (but we will keep on reviewing and interviewing emerging authors and we will never betray our initial goals). In these days we are discussing about the contents of the new sections. I can tell in advance that we are going to offer a new column dedicated to art, with particular attention to art criticism books and reports from current exhibitions.
Literary Criticism (Critica Letteraria)
The founder and admin: Gloria M. Ghioni, born in Pavia (Italy) 1985, got her BA in Philology and History from the Medieval to the Contemporary Age and her MA in Modern Philology, both at the University fo Pavia. She is now a PhD student in Theories and Researches about Cultural Systems at the University of Sassari (Italy). She has always been mixing the academic interest with a genuine passion for writing.