Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A rant

Lord love a duck. Have I turned into a pedant or does anyone else have a problem with a publisher's press release containing a factual error--kinda a minor error, but still!-- within its first paragraph? I'll be interested to see how many book reviews in the coming weeks will also include this professional gaffe --you can bet Amazon's Harriet Klausner's will be among them.

Is it really asking too much for someone who's actually read the book to tout it to potential reviewers? I guess I don't understand publishing.

And while I'm in rant mode, has anyone else read Jennie Yabroff's article on Jodi Picoult? Lord love a duck all over again. Anyone who's never spent any time on the literary blogs would come away from this article believing we're all members of a "self-appointed literature police" who never ever do any pleasure reading of our own.

And then there's this: "Picoult sees herself more in the school of so-called literary writers such as Sue Miller, who also writes about domestic topics despite frequent downmarket comparisons, especially to 'Twilight' author Stephenie Meyer." Is Yabroff saying Miller is often compared to Meyer (a quick google search reveals no evidence for that) or that Picoult is often compared to Meyer (because of sales, maybe, or because they share readers?). Is there a comma missing from that sentence that would make Yarbroff's meaning a bit clearer?

And she ends with this: ". . .. equating reading--all reading, from the classics to the tabloids--with pleasure feels radical in this age of government-subsidized municipal book clubs. Maybe if reading wasn't so 'good' for us, we'd do more of it."

I guess Yabroff would regard me--and you, too, no doubt--as a radical glutton. And I'm left yet again with the feeling that a so-called professional did not read the book(s) she was writing about.


  1. Many of the review copies I receive arrive with no press release or note. Some of the books are so far from anything I ever write about on M-mv, I find myself wondering, "Why did you send this to *me*?"

    Are you going to educate us about the gaffe?


  2. I've received quite a few spiritual self-help books (or at least that's how I'd classify them). Perhaps some wag of a publicist thinks that's what I need, but I have no intention of reading them (let alone reviewing them) and put them immediately in the Kidney Foundation donation box.

    The gaffe is from The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, which I'm a little more than halfway through and enjoying wholeheartedly. The press release says the main character, after receiving a phone call telling him the Smithsonian has given him an award, slips out at dawn "the next morning" to hop a freight train headed east. The next morning he starts a map of Moby-Dick and proceeds to spend the afternoon helping his father on the ranch.

  3. Both the blog entry and the comments here indicate a real lack of interest in marketing product. I don't know *why* the publishers in trade and consumer publishing feel they have no obligation to market titles properly, but its clear that they either don't think it is their job or they don't think it is worth their valuable time. I actually work in publishing and can't justify it to you.

  4. I don't think Yabroff gets it, the "it" being reading.

  5. Jill, I work in a library and I can't justify the number of people who don't read there either.

    Bybee, I think Yabroff had to resort to a formulaic controversy--commercial vs. literary--to pad out her actual reporting on Picoult and her fans. Reading the books to review would have taken more time than turning out a fluff piece.


"I don't believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time."

Sherman Alexie cancels book tour for memoir about his mother.