Matthew Price, writer and book critic
Matthew Price's Blog
The Death of the Metro Daily, Con’t

Several years ago, I waggishly laid odds on what big American city would be the first to lose its daily newspaper. It was 2008. The forecasts were dire: one Business Week writer predicted that one or major American markets will lose their daily newspaper within 18 months. In a series of updates, I rejiggered my odds and cited more dire forecasts, including one that had 85% of American newspapers going out of business by 2011.

None of this has come to pass. I had the Boston Herald at 2-1 odds to close up shop, but four years later, it’s still scrappy, still in business, and still in print. The closest I came was my prediction that The Detroit News would have to close down. It hasn’t, though it only does home delivery two days a week. It still prints a daily newspaper.

If we’ve learned one thing, change is coming to the America newspaper incrementally. The print edition is not being killed outright; it’s being phased out over time. And the first big city daily to take this step is one of my favorite regional papers, The New Orleans Times-Picayune, which will be scaling its print edition back to three days a week. I cannot see this as anything but a loss, not only for New Orleans but for American newspapering in general. (Even PCMag thinks so.) Sure, the newspaper industry has to face its digital future, yet the slow demise of the print edition is something only to be mourned.


Posted By

Matthew Price

URL

Permalink

Categories

Newspapers

My Book of 2011: Into the Silence by Wade Davis

As a critic, you encounter all kinds of books. Some are just awful. Some are worthy, but dull. A few are good; some books even entertain. Then there are books you live in. (They don’t come along very often.) Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest is one of those kind of books. As thrilling as any adventure story, and grounded in awe-inspiring research, this magnificent account of the British Everest expeditions of the 1920s and the doomed attempts of George Mallory to scale the world’s tallest mountain is one of the best books I have ever reviewed.


Posted By

Matthew Price

URL

Permalink

Critics: A Wretched Species?

Two cheers for the critic! Superannuated (perhaps, but still hanging on by a thread), woefully underpaid (most definitely), and charged with the thankless task of drowning other people’s kittens, the critic, says Francis Wheen in a recent Financial Times piece, can still tempt us to risk something different.


Posted By

Matthew Price

URL

Permalink

Bobby Fischer Against the World

HBO’s new documentary perfectly captures the pathos and ugliness of one of chess’s all-time greats. It’s a fine compliment to Frank Brady’s new Fischer bio, which I reviewed earlier this year in The Boston Globe.


Posted By

Matthew Price

URL

Permalink

Categories

Books
Television

What bin Laden Cost Us

National Journal has just published a fine and deeply depressing piece about the toll bin Laden has taken on the US economy. It’s a necessary counterpoint to all the chest thumping of the past week. .

Reading it, I couldn’t help but think of the comment from the fellow out in Washington state who would not shave his beard until bin Laden was killed or captured: “No one really won,” he said, newly shaven. “Everybody’s been hurt in all of this.”


Posted By

Matthew Price

URL

Permalink

Categories

History
News

Guardian City Guides launch

The Guardian’s travel section just launched a nifty series of interactive city guides. Here’s a top ten I wrote on the best outdoor activities in New York. Get your inner urban woodsman (or woman) on right here in the 5 boroughs….


URL

Permalink

Categories

Newspapers
Travel

World War I Ends on Sunday

Believe it or not, Germany’s last financial obligation from the First World War will be fulfilled this Sunday . With a final installment of a staggering reparations bill, Germany will have met the terms laid down by the Allies in the Treaty of Versailles. This is the way wars end— not with a bang, but an entry in the ledger book.


Posted By

Matthew Price

URL

Permalink

Categories

History

The TLS and the British Spy

In a fascinating piece about the relationship between two quintessential British institutions—the Times Literary Supplement and spying—the historian Keith Jeffery looks at how various TLS hands reviewed spy fiction and memoirs, genres which emerged in the years after WWI. Not surprisingly, the British Secret Intelligence Service was none too happy when ex-employees wanted to tell their story. But there was often not much to tell—Somerset Maugham, who worked as spy during the war, observed that the work of an agent was “on the whole extremely monotonous,” and produced much that was “uncommonly useless.” Maugham’s fictionalized versions of his experiences, which he collected in his Ashenden tales, hardly compare to the over the top action of Ian Fleming’s 007 novels. Indeed, the TLS reviewer, praising Maugham with faint damns, concluded that his work was “only moderately entertaining.”

Then there was the paranoid former Chief of Secret Service who outlined his memoir thus: “The book will be quarto size, bound in red, top-edge gilt, subtitled ‘The Indiscretions of the CSS.’ It will have four hundred pages, all blank.”


Posted By

Matthew Price

URL

Permalink

Categories

Books
History

Wodehouse and Psmith

P.G. Wodehouse is best known for his creations Jeeves and Wooster, yet, as D.J. Taylor writes in a recent issue of the TLS, Wodehouse forged his reputation on the adventures of Ronald (formerly Rupert) Psmith, a “supercharged, upper-class version of the “masher” or “knut” of the Edwardian comic paper.”


Posted By

Matthew Price

URL

Permalink

Categories

Books

Happy Birthday, Penguin

pnphoto.jpg


Penguin Books is celebrating its 75th birthday this year. Here’s a piece I wrote in 2006 about Penguin founder Allen Lane, and the enduring genius of his imprint’s always eye-catching designs. (The look of this website is an homage to Penguin’s classic orange and black livery).


Posted By

Matthew Price

URL

Permalink

Categories

Books

BLOG CATEGORIES

Books
History
Ideas
Miscellany
News
Newspapers
Sports
Television
Travel

RECENT BLOG POSTS

The Death of the Metro Daily, Con’t
Several years ago, I waggishly laid odds on what big American city…

My Book of 2011: Into the Silence by Wade Davis
As a critic, you encounter all kinds of books. Some are just…

Critics: A Wretched Species?
Two cheers for the critic! Superannuated (perhaps, but still hanging on by…

Bobby Fischer Against the World
HBO’s new documentary perfectly captures the pathos and ugliness of one of…

What bin Laden Cost Us
National Journal has just published a fine and deeply depressing piece…

See all recent blog posts »

SELECTED ARTICLES BY
MATTHEW PRICE

When The United States Spoke French
The Boston Globe, August 16, 2014

Hampton Sides' "In The Kingdom of the Ice": A Book of the Year, 2014
The Boston Globe, August 2, 2014

Kim Philby: A Spy Among Friends
The Boston Globe, July 26, 2014

The Zhivago Affair: A Book of the Year, 2014
Newsday, June 22, 2014

The Great War: Books for the Centenary
Newsday, June 15, 2014

See all posted articles »

KINDRED SPIRITS

BookDaddy
Caleb Crain
Critical Mass
Elegant Variation
Howard French
Andrew Hearst
Jacket Copy
Scott McLemee
Maud Newton
Carlin Romano
Chris Rose
Slipped Disc
J. Peder Zane

Matthew Price, writer and book critic


SITE DESIGN

Andrew Hearst