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August 17, 2004

Did I Mention That Stanley Crouch Is a Punk?
Well, He Is--And I Got No Reason to Lie to You

by Ron Hogan

I let it slide when Maud presented ZZ Packer's version of the Stanley Crouch bitch slap, figuring enough was enough, but then I had a double epiphany yesterday, brought on by a Gawker item about how Crouch used the Topic A "pick of the week" segment to hawk his own novel, Don't the Moon Look Lonesome, which I then happened to see in the new arrivals bin at the Strand. So I flipped to the colophon page and discovered that the novel, first published four years ago, just came out in paperback a few weeks ago. Which you probably all knew, but I didn't.

Now here's the thing: unless you're selling hardcovers like John Berendt, the only conceivable reason for waiting four years to issue a paperback is that nobody's particularly enthusiastic about putting it out. At least that's my experience; others with more direct publishing backgrounds should comment if they have contradictory experiences. So, frankly, it looks to me like Stanley Crouch saw an opportunity to generate some buzz behind what was otherwise undoubtedly going to be an extremely soft release even by the reduced standards of paperback reissues. In other words, the man beat up on a man just to try to sell some copies of his lousy book.

"Punk" is about the kindest word that comes to mind, and I'm even somewhat loath to use that, as it does a disservice to fine, upright citizens like Ian MacKaye who have more talent, and probably more integrity, than Stanley Crouch will ever have.

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