Wednesday, November 09, 2011
I don't care if you want to start a Book Riot,author baiting is not cool
Yesterday,I noticed a stir at Jennifer Weiner's Facebook page(yes,I am listed as one of her fans there)and saw that she was speaking out on Twitter about an article written about her and Jodi Picoult at the new literary website Book Riot.
Entitled "Why aren't Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult pissed at Jeffrey Eugenides",one of their bloggers wondered about the lack of a fuss over Eugenides' new novel ,The Marriage Plot,from these ladies similar to the one made about Jonathan Franzen's Freedom around the same time last year.
It's a pretty snarky piece that basically is complaining about the fact that no one is complaining about the Eugenides book or the great big billboard that his publishers put up in Times Square,which has been mentioned online in many places for the last couple of weeks. This part really ticked me off(words in bold print are my emphasis):
"And then Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner got on Twitter and coined the term “Franzenfreude,” a word that conveyed the annoyance of these bestselling female authors who write in the same sphere of Franzen’s Freedom (that is to say, suburban life and domestic problems) and have yet to see their pretty faces on TIME magazine, much less see a review of one of their works in The New York Times Sunday Book Review."
That "pretty faces" remark is incredibly condescending to me. No matter on what side of that debate you were on,there is no excuse for making personal put downs like that. As much as I had my own misgivings on the Franzen situation,I would not deny anyone the right to have their say on the matter or dismiss their grievances so cavalierly.
Not to mention the fact that Eugenides' new novel isn't getting the same amount of fanfare that Franzen's did(the reviews for the book have been mixed for the most part) and that both Weiner and Picoult stated repeatedly that they had no quarrel with Franzen but were unhappy with the literary media circus that seems more invested in male authors over female ones.
Jennifer Weiner,not being the type to take such guff lying down,expressed her displeasure on her Twitter feed and I say,good for her. There are plenty of us out there willing to support her right to speak her mind instead of engaging in catty baiting.
Perhaps it never occur to the Book Riot writer that maybe one of the reasons that Weiner has no complaints regarding The Marriage Plot is that she has better things to do,plus tons of other books to read and give her share of the conversation to. If it didn't,maybe that BR writer isn't as savvy as she thinks she is:
To tell the truth and shame the devil there,the hoopla over Franzen's Freedom was way over the top and then some. I still haven't read it yet,mainly due to knowing that no matter how good it is,the book just can't deliver on the hype.
That's not the author's fault,of course. However,it would've been nice if Emma Donoghue had gotten the same kind of love for Room that Freedom did(both novels were out about the same time). Some art works are just not appreciated in their time or not as much as others,that's the name of the game.
Even people who praised the book were honest enough to admit it's short comings and there's nothing wrong with pointing out the insane level of adulation Freedom was receiving as well:
In the end,what truly disappoints me is the whole attitude that this Book Riot blogger had about literary disputes:
"There’s nothing I love more than a good literary scandal. It’s so deliciously incongruous. Book people are supposed to be quiet and reasonable and wear prescription glasses.
So when the literati goes nuts, for me, it’s about as hilarious as the Marx Brothers guest-starring in an episode of I Love Lucy and in that episode there are about eighty-seven instances of pies in the face and a hundred and twelve pratfalls, which is to say, crazy-hilarious and nuts-awesome."
In other words,"Amuse me with your petty arguments,minions! I crave entertainment at your expense!" Think I'm exaggerating,folks? Check this out,if you will:
"So I’m waiting and waiting and waiting for my mishigas. And… there’s no mishigas.
What gives? Where’s my literary knock-down drag-out? How come a situation that so closely mirrors last year’s Franzen-bashing barely registered on the Book Scandal Richter Scale?"
You know,it's one thing to say "here they go again" if another controversy from the same parties crops up,it's another to simply stir up trouble because you are in the mood for something to sneer at. That is a total super villain attitude to take and not in the best sense of that word.
Such a superior stance is repulsive to say the least and if all you're looking for is something to play with for a while before annihilation,be careful that it doesn't decide to fight back before you get the worst of the bargain:
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