Thursday, July 2, 2009

Alain de Botton Gets Mad in Public

After receiving a bad review from Caleb Crain in Sunday’s New York Times Book Review for his latest book (The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work), Alain de Botton left this vitriolic comment on Crain’s blog:

Caleb, you make it sound on your blog that your review is somehow a sane and fair assessment. In my eyes, and all those who have read it with anything like impartiality, it is a review driven by an almost manic 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. You present yourself as 'nice' in this blog (so much talk about your boyfriend, the dog etc). It's only fair for your readers (nice people like Joe Linker and trusting souls like PAB) to get a whiff that the truth may be more complex. I will hate you till the day I die and wish you nothing but ill will in every career move you make. I will be watching with interest and schadenfreude.
The comment by David Jones immediately following de Botton’s screed says it all: “oh dear …”

(Via MobyLives)


rjnagle said...

How totally funny.

Watch out, Gwen. You may receive a nastygram at some point.

The problem with Alain de Botton's remark is that he vastly overstates the importance of a NYTBR in determining success.

These reviews are better than average, but still nothing extraordinary. (That said, I thought Caleb's review was interesting and well written and even made the book sound interesting). I thought it was somewhat negative, but not overly so. (But Botton's response was negative --even if he was just exaggerating his feelings to make a point).

But again, I don't care (and most people don't care) what the NYTBR thinks about a book (with the notable exception of library acquisition departments).

Harvey said...

Here's another author/reviewer flap that's gotten lots of press this week:

Lit and Life said...

Well, now! I follow Alice Hoffman on Twitter and she did really go after the Boston Globe reviewer in tweet after tweet for a whole day. It made for great fun! I would certainly hope that one bad review would not kill a book in the U.S. Mr. de Botton, is, I think, giving the review too much credit.

Zibilee said...

What a baby! Any author should know that when they publish a book, there exists a chance that the critics (or in this case, one critic) will slam it. Regardless of what he thinks of his book, it's really all a case of different strokes for different folks, and he is making an ass out of himself by repeatedly speaking about this negative review. He is really only drawing more attention to it by doing this, which is defeating his whole purpose.

Erin Skelly Cameron said...

... An excellent example of why writers should not read reviews of their own work. Inevitably there will be a bad review now and again, regardless of how brilliant the writer may (or may not) be. I don't know anything of De Bottom's work - this is the first that I've heard of him - but the thread of commentary portrays de Bottom as a bit of a sore loser.

Although - as a commenter on Crain's blog mentioned - do we know this is really a comment posted by de Bottom, someone playing a prank, or - even worse - crain or an affiliate trying to stir up web chatter for the sake of publicity? We may never know.