Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A bit of controversy surrounds the New York Times Book Review...

I tend to shy away from reading the New York Times Book Review - perhaps not seeing myself as that worldly and all - but last Friday I literally forced myself to do so, after the issue arrived in electronic form in my e-mail box. I remember thinking that the most "interesting" review, and a long one, was Caleb Crain's review of the latest book by Alain de Botton. De Botton's book is The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work.

Never having seen The Pleasures, I certainly could not take sides but it seemed like a tough review. Apparently author de Botton thought so, too. According to the Los Angeles Times, de Botton "left an angry message" in the comments section of Crain's blog. Here's a short excerpt of that message:

"... (yours) is a review driven by an almost maniac desire to bad-mouth and perversely depreciate anything of value. The accusations you level at me are simply extraordinary. I genuinely hope that you will find yourself on the receiving end of such a daft review some time very soon -- so that you can grow up and start to take some responsibility for your work as a reviewer. You have now killed my book in the United States, nothing short of that. So that's two years of work down the drain in one miserable 900 word review."

Again, I don't know - nor will I venture to guess - who was wrong and/or who was right. But I did find two follow-up comments by readers at a media site. One (Laurel_Ann) said that the author's attack on the reviewer was "bad behavior," but also possibly a shrewd P.R. move that could result in increased attention being given to his book (at least at the L.A. Times), and maybe even result in increased sales.

Another person (Andy) wrote, "Perhaps if his book cannot stand up to one 'miserable 900 word review,' then he should stop writing books."

And now we return to our usual programming.

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