introducing readers to writers since 1995

March 30, 2005

What the Blogs Need Now Is Love, Sweet Love

by Ron Hogan

I mentioned yesterday that I'd been a bit reluctant to say anything about Ayelet Waldman's appearances in NYT and Salon, in part because I'd tapped that well the first time around and I didn't really want it to become a recurring theme here (although Sarah got in some thoughtful commentary on the subject). That reservation was validated yesterday when I saw the latest installment of Galleycat's extended hate on Jonathan Safran Foer. I'm not sure which is creepier: the idea that Foer was pulling an Eddie Haskell on Deborah Solomon or the loose connection GC makes between the pseudosexual Eddie-style suckup technique's of Foer's fictional character and the way Foer's mother doted on him as a child, which is then linked up to the alleged googly-eyed treatment in Solomon's reporting.

What I do know is that enough has gotten to be enough. The line between criticizing somebody's writing and attacking their personal life usually isn't a very thin one; in fact, another reason I didn't especially care to dwell on the Waldman material is that her choices of material have made it difficult to tackle her writing without tackling her life, unless you wanted to get into the sort of redlining that gets dull fast. That's not the case with Foer--and since he hasn't done anything egregious like slap or spit on people who didn't like his novel, I agree with Mark Sarvas that he doesn't really seem to deserve the kind of vitriol he's been getting.

I mean, Lord knows I'm hard on certain "bad, bad writers," but I hope that the emphasis here is on the bad writing--unless, of course, somebody happens to be both a bad prose stylist and the sort of guy who slaps his reviewers around or totally lies his way through a journalistic career and then tries to cash in with a tell-all memoir. But if I ever get to the point where I'm just dumping on some poor author the way GC does on JSF, feel free to stage an intervention before I totally embarrass myself.

UPDATE: Nathalie @ Galleycat responds carefully, and makes some good points, especially about the intent of her project as opposed to mine, not to mention my possible irony deficiencies. She's clearly right in that there should be some room for critiquing an author's public image, whether self-created or perpetuated in the media, and the differences we have could just be a question of degree.

If you enjoy this blog,
your PayPal donation
can contribute towards its ongoing publication.