Masterworks from the Wild Web
By Sarah Boxer
Vintage Books USA, Paperback, 9780307278067, 343pp.
Publication Date: February 12, 2008
An anthology of blogs.
I didn t know you had a blog.
I don t. It's an anthology of other people's blogs.
How do you find good blogs?
I read. I surf. I look at blog contests. I follow links. I ask people about the blogs they like.
Is a good blog hard to find?
A Book of Blogs? WTF
Sarah Boxer, a former New York Times reporter and critic, travels through the blogosphere (more than 80 million blogs and counting) and finds some masterpieces along the way. Among the bloggers in the anthology are:
two fashion critics mocking the inexplicable fugliness of celebrities
a Marine Corps lieutenant stationed in Fallujah in 2006
a 19-year old student in Singapore cheerfully pining for her ex
an illustrator's tiny saga of a rodent and his ball of crap
Odysseus's sidekick telling his side of the Iliad and Odyssey
Revealing and deceptive, grand and niggling, worldly and parochial, these blogs comprise a snapshot of life on the wild, wild Web.
“Winning. . . Bold. . . . Provides a rousing awareness that many people, in many places, are thinking, feeling, and eager to connect.”
—The New Republic
“Aptly eclectic. . . . Ultimate Blogs does exactly what it’s supposed to do.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Eclectic anthology of superb writing.”
“Turning a book nerd into a blog fiend can prove to be as difficult a transition as turning a blogger into an author. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible — quite the opposite, particularly given the overall curatorial tone Boxer displays here. Celebrated on paper and ink, protected from the snark, the fawning, the bitchiness, the link whoring, and the exhausting self-referential attacks, the Internet in Ultimate Blogs is cherished in a wide-eyed, doting manner that even the most popular bloggers don’t seem to enjoy very much anymore.”
—The Boston Phoenix
“Most of Boxer’s selections don’t read like a new species of writing, but like very close cousins of once-venerable print genres that have been forced out of public discourse by the shrinkage of major American media: passionate arts criticism, critical theory, colorful polemics, and, above all, the personal essay.”
—New York Magazine
“A provocative introduction to the art form.”
“One way to find blogs worth reading . . . . [A] Norton Anthology of Blogging.”
—The New York Times
“Here you'll find excerpts from 27 online journals-comprising punditry, poetry, ranting, raving and drawing of both pictures and conclusions. You'll also find some wonderful writing; you'll laugh, cry and scratch your head. . . .Boxer has gone out of her way to seek out content that can make the leap from one medium to another.”
“[Ultimate Blogs] serves as a gateway to some true Web gems.”
—Rocky Mountain News
“. . . the real utility of Ultimate Blogs might be as a relic of an odd, fleeting cultural moment when unfettered online self-expression was still new enough to seem worth documenting but was actually old enough to be decadent.”
—New York Observer
“Boxer brings a generalist's curiosity to her task, finding engaging writing on classical music, miscarriage, Iraq and more. . .The common thread is the excellent (and personal and sometimes edgy) writing.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Boxer displays tastes so broad as to accommodate ingratiating cranks and cunning charmers alike, and she hurdles what would seem to be the chief problem of assembling such a book—the likelihood of its emerging as fresh as Best American Weather Reports 2007—by seizing upon posts with a literary bent and respectable half-life.”
“Sarah Boxer, ex of The New York Times, culls mightily from the Amazons, Niles and Mississippis of blog flow. Her journey begins as a blog neophyte, and ends in her Top 25 blog choices. Many of the destinations are funny and fascinating, not to mention attractive in their intentions.
“. . [Sarah Boxer’s} journey into the unruly realm of blogging is a journey of self-discovery. “
“Sarah Boxer, who has assembled a little print anthology of blog "writing." Which means that her task is two-fold, actually: explaining blogs to old people and justifying collecting them into a book to herself. How does she fare? Hilariously!”
“Much of the writing contained in the book is well worth browsing for even the most hardened Web aficionado . . . Benjamin Zimmer's “Language Log” reads like a wonderfully expansive and more self-aware William Safire column, while Sean Carroll's “Cosmic Variance” manages to be wryly humorous even while discussing theoretical physics at the Ph.D. level. Ringers like Alex Ross of The New Yorker and Matthew Yglesias of The Atlantic Monthly hardly seem like fair choices to demonstrate the democratization of the Web, but their blogs, on music and classical politics, respectively, are must-reads…”
“Interesting authors, different viewpoints, good writing, and you can curl up with it next to the fire.”