Banks Knows His Books

Quarterly Gets New Editor and Makeover

One of Banks's goals is to notice books that have been "overlooked by other reviews." For example, the summer issue covers a series of Michel Foucault lectures from the '70s, which Banks calls "not well-known in the states, not thought of as important," an ethnographer's account of the "manners and customs of the modern Egyptians," an assessment of the late critic Leslie Fiedler, and a look back at the late Alison and Peter Smithson, an "incredibly neglected" pair of British architects who ran what Banks calls "perhaps the most underrated practice in the late 20th century."

Banks says the new Bookforum will regularly feature letters to the editor (the summer issue features a bristling dispatch from Richard Howard, who confirms he is gay, but not, as Alain Robbe-Grillet called him in a previous issue, the kind of homosexual who finds "nothing more disgusting than women"). He also plans to include a regular letter from a "far-flung correspondent" that will use a local phenomenon as a prism through which to view culture, and a column called "Luxury and Degradation" in which rotating authors reveal what they read for guilty pleasure. (The column title echoes a Jeff Koons series from the mid 1980s.)

"Getting the balance right between the titles we cover is tricky," says Banks, "especially in a quarterly, where every call can seem overdetermined. And our editorial mission might at first be a bit confusing. But I think with coming issues it will be clear to readers what to expect." The next issue arrives on the newsstands in late September.

Cynthia Cotts is on vacation through the month of July. Press Clips will return in August.

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