March 11, 2016

Hail and Farewell, Bookslut!


Jessa Crispin, founder of Bookslut

Jessa Crispin, founder of Bookslut

Chances are, since we’ve found you here, you already know and love Bookslut, the lit blog founded in 2002 by writer and critic Jessa Crispin. Which is why it pains me to tell you that… it’s over.

Yep. Come May, Bookslut will cease publication. And while its archives will remain available, as Crispin says, “until the apocalypse comes,” there will be no more features, no more book reviews, no more blogging—no more writing under the banner Bookslut. The announcement was posted by Crispin on Wednesday, March 9th:

In May, we’ll be celebrating our 14th anniversary here at Bookslut. I really have been running this site my entire adult life. Which is why it’s a little scary to say: the May issue will be our last issue. I’ve decided to cease publication of Bookslut.

I want to thank everyone who wrote for us, copyedited for us, sent us books, took our books away (always too many books!), and everyone who read us. It means a tremendous amount to me.

It’s hard to think of a “literary Internet” without Bookslut. Dennis Johnson—publisher and co-founder here at Melville House, as well as founder of MobyLives—has been reading the blog since the beginning. He had this to say about Crispin:

Way back in the early aughts, about a year or two after I started MobyLives, there was an explosion of new book blogs. I remember thinking that there were a lot of people doing what MobyLives was doing but, for the most part, minus the critical factor, and minus the sense of humor. Everyone had a few hobby horses—writers or other bloggers they hated, usually—but even that stuff was rendered in high school drama class levels of passion that was blind as a bat with its navigation system switched off. Mostly they were purposeless beyond polishing apples in hopes of selling their own novels.

Jessa was a starbright exception. She never turned her critical faculties to low, she never wrote in less than laser-sharp prose, she never seemed to be anything less than passionate about book culture, and she never stopped being absolutely hilarious. Also cool. She was very, very cool.
[Jessa] was a real inspiration to actual outsiders, as opposed to outsiders who wanted in, a living example that there was intelligent life, genuine cool, and fun, outside the echo chamber. And so the closing of Bookslut is a real loss. But luckily she kept it up long enough to influence a generation of outsiders by now … and, I’ll bet, made a good number of insiders consider escape. That’s a serious accomplishment few of us from the pioneer days can claim.
It’s an end of an era, to be sure, but it’s not quite quitting time for Crispin. As Johnson writes:

Jessa has gone on to write books that come out of the things she wrote about on the blog—her first amazing book, The Dead Ladies Project, is in many ways like Bookslut writ large […] It’s the next step in her growth as an intellectual, and maybe it’s even better. And it signifies that really, she’s not going away.

We’ll be hosting a wake for Bookslut here at Melville House on May 6th. We’ll have more details about that soon, but if the founder has her way (and she will), proceedings will consist of good company, polite conversation, strong drinks, less polite conversation, fire, brimstone, and a funeral pyre. Yes, a Viking funeral it will be for Bookslut—and we will cheer: Hail and farewell, Bookslut!



Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.