The idea behind the Roving Editor is to do for new writing what the best mp3 blogs do for music — to seek out quality, keep the commentary to a minimum and let the work speak for itself. There are enough critics out there as it is. What is harder to come by is the opportunity to read a sample of the work of a writer whose name you may have come across in a review somewhere.
By way of illustration, I recently read good things in the Guardian about an American author called Donald Ray Pollock, whose first book, Knockemstiff, has just been released in the UK. I was intrigued enough to take a look online and discovered that one of the stories from the collection has been published by the Barcelona Review. This in itself is a sign of quality, as the Barcelona Review is one of the best outlets for new fiction on the internet. The story is called Pills, and is a beautifully observed account of a teenage boy's doomed attempt to escape from small-town America.
- ► 2009 (14)