This fall we'relaunching a participatory experiment in our "Book Club" section. You are cordially invited to read and share your views along with us.
Here's how it will work: First, get the book we've chosen a few weeks in advance. It will be a work of fiction or nonfiction, something current or a classic. Read it by the deadline. Then, offer your views to other readers and Slate's critics in a special section of "The Fray."
In fact, our new participatory Book Club will look a lot like Slate's old Book Club, a review in the form of a multiday dialogue between two of our regular writers. The difference is the parallel discussion in the Fray. Our official reviewers will join in the Fray thread, and, we hope, draw upon observations from the Fray in their ongoing discussion of the book. Slate's editors may join in the Fray thread, to help guide the exchange between Fray participants and the writers. We're also hoping that from time to time the author of the book under discussion will weigh in and answer questions.
Undoubtedly, we'll be figuring things out as we go along. Our plan is to choose a participatory book every four to six weeks. Usually, we'll try to select books that are no more than 300 pages and that are likely to provoke debate or that tie into broader hot topics in the culture. The selection will be made by Slate's literary editor, Meghan O'Rourke.
Our first choice is a book that has recently been the talk of our New York office and is sure to be one of the most discussed novels of the year: The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem. Lethem is the author, most recently, of Motherless Brooklyn, which won the National Book Critics Circle award in 1999. The new novel tells the story of Dylan Ebdus, a boy growing up in a racially charged neighborhood in New York, and his adulthood as a music critic. It's longer than most books we'll choose, but we thought the exception was worth making. The novel should be available in most bookstores now, and is available online.
The Book Club discussion will begin Monday, Oct. 6. Please join us.