it’s getting to be primary election time around here, so you know that means it’s about time for janklow to get excessive mad about a bunch of things and start ranting about them on the internet. but before i get into any rants about politics (coming soon!), let me get out a little bit of this rage on some non-political topics (well, mostly, anyway).
in the future, Jodi Picoult shall be called “the female Nicholas Sparks,” and not for reasons related to their literary output
yes, it’s time once again for me to get outrageously offended by the critical sensibilities of best-selling authors. and frankly, i should probably acknowledge that any time an author does something like this, this is what i immediately think: why would anyone who’s very successful (i gather she’s sold something like 14 million books) in a trade where the vast majority of people in that trade are nowhere so successful be so angry?
“Yesterday morning, while the rest of the literary world was busy reading Michiko Kakutani’s rave of the new Jonathan Franzen novel, NYT-bestselling author Jodi Picoult took to Twitter to denounce the review as yet another instance of the NYT’s bias towards white males. Picoult wrote: NYT raved about Franzen’s new book. Is anyone shocked? Would love to see the NYT rave about authors who aren’t white male literary darlings.”
now i know Twitter’s not exactly conductive to relating a well-reasoned opinion on the unfairness of that review… but somehow i doubt she’s about to get serious and break down why either a) Kakutani’s wrong to praise Franzen in either this case or others, or b) Kakutani’s been unfair to her on occasions beyond to say it’s because she’s a woman. and i don’t give a fuck about Jonathan Franzen or Michiko Kakutani; i just hate crying millionaires.
“The NYTPicker contacted Picoult — the 44-year-old fiction sensation whose bestsellers have, at times, been mercilessly picked apart in the NYT by daily critic Janet Maslin — to see if she would explain her sentiments at greater length.”
see, and that says it all right there. you see, popular authors seem to have this opinion that their financial success is the equivalent of critical success. i mean, how dare someone pick apart their book? they sell millions of copies! i would personally recommend these authors do something more constructive, whether it be to do what they do best and enjoy the rewards of being, you know, FINANCIALLY SUCCESSFUL, or to use their new-found wealth to support them as they take the time to craft better and better works.
“It is my personal opinion that yes, the Times favors white male authors.,” Picoult told The NYTPicker. “That isn’t to say someone else might get a good review — only that if you are white and male and living in Brooklyn you have better odds, or so it seems.”
honestly, what i would have respected would be her taking the time to break down some statistics on this: what percentage of white male authors got a positive review versus those of any other combination of demographics. it’s completely possible her theory is accurate. but when you come out with this “it is my personal opinion” shit… well, sounds like sour grapes to me.
“In her comments to The NYTPicker, Picoult made it plain that her sensitivities derive from her own feelings of mistreatment by the NYT.”
“In a 2008 review of “Change of Heart,” Maslin said Picoult “seems to have written her latest tear-jerker on authorial autopilot.” Maslin went on: “When writers become this popular (Ms. Picoultâ€™s books currently top both The New York Timesâ€™s hardcover and paperback best-seller lists), they can coast in ways not possible for the up-and-coming. The opportunity to be long-winded yet perfunctory, paradoxically daring yet formulaic, is available to only proven hit makers at the top of the heap.””
and Maslin is, essentially, correct. authors who are massively popular are more indulged by their publishers because they have the ability to sell books; this should not be surprising to anyone that recognizes that publishing is a business. authors that i enjoy (let’s say Stephen King, although i have to admit that when i say i enjoy him i suppose i mean “pre-1995” or something) that are very, very successful are able to put out books that seem to scream how an editor could have improved them; in King’s case, he admits he makes mild factual errors but doesn’t seem to have anyone looking over his work to correct them. that said, i’m not ANGRY with this concept, just at worst disappointed. so what gives, Picoult?
“The NYT has long made it clear that they value literary fiction and disdain commercial fiction – and they disparage it regardless of race or gender of the author,” Picoult said. “I’m not commenting on one specific critic or even on my own reviews (which are few and far between because I write commercial fiction). “
so let me see if i follow this: you’re not commenting on your own reviews… even though you are commenting that the Times “disdain[s] commercial fiction”… and saying that you “write commercial fiction.” why, one might think that you actually ARE commenting on the way they review your books! in fact, one might even advance the notion that there’s no way you’d be this emotional about their reviews if they DIDN’T apply to your own books.
“”True,” Picoult tweeted back. “But did you know what ‘lapidary’ meant when you read it in Kakutani’s review? I think reviewers just like to look smart.””
something tells me that Picoult doesn’t know what “lapidary” meant. and you know what? who fucking cares? get a dictionary out and look it up and learn a new word today!
you know, i’m never going to read any of her books because a) i have no interest in them and b) after all this, i just assume her books all suck. but the next time i find someone i know reading one, i’m going to ask them to confirm or deny this for me. actually, they’ll probably praise her; the number of people i know who assure me that Dan Brown “rules” makes me very, very sad.
if nothing else, you have to admit that the man has one hell of a Civil War mustache
now, in fairness, my colleague J.Miles made the point that we’re all just giving this moron attention by discussing him at all, and this is probably true; the idea of burning Qu’rans isn’t illegal and shouldn’t be prevented legally, and a lot of the people furious about the concept are probably hypocritical about the topic. for example, if you’re offended by the Qu’ran burning and that makes you burn a Bible or an American flag or something … what gives, man? that being said, this Terry Jones character is so ridiculous that i would be remiss if i didn’t rag on the guy a little bit. so let’s do it.
“A Christian pastor today canceled his controversial plan to burn copies of the Quran, saying he had received a “sign from God” when a Muslim cleric agreed to move an Islamic center planned for a site near ground zero in New York.”
so let me see if i follow this: you’re Terry Jones and you think Islam is “of the devil,” and so you’re burning Qu’rans unless God tells you not to. but of all the things in the world that you think Islam/Muslims do that’s so evil… moving an Islamic center is the sign from God you get? ridiculous.
“Terry Jones said tonight he had been “clearly, clearly lied to” about what he said was a promise to change the location of the New York mosque.”
honestly, i think this guy really believed someone told him they were moving the mosque in response to his Qu’ran burning. as in, i think Terry Jones is not just a jerk or crazily angry, but that he is, in fact, an actual insane person. and those guys are ALWAYS hearing voices, or, at the very least, suffering from misunderstandings.
“”Our thought was the American people do not as a whole want the mosque at ground zero. If they were willing to cancel the mosque at the ground zero location or if they were willing to move that location, we would consider that a sign from God,” Jones told reporters today.”
stop talking about “the American people as a whole.” seriously. if you HAVE to claim popular support for anything you’re talking about, keep it to remarks like “the majority of Americans” (although i don’t know if that’s true or not) or “most of the handful of people i see at my church.”
at this point, i’m going to turn things over to Jon Stewart, who ripped on this guy much more successfully than i ever could over here at this link (provided this link works). note, if nothing else, that in the clip of Jones used during this episode, Jones implies that “moderate Muslims” should have no problem with him BURNING THE QU’RAN. what the fuck kind of logic is that?
why are you all just standing there? this is not the appropriate way to use an escalator! GET MOVING
something about the proper use of methods of transporting oneself around a public location
so i take this idea very seriously because i am often in the kind of locations that have these things… but seriously, people, we’re living in a society! and we’re supposed to act in a civilized way! and sometimes that means we’re going to have to have some refreshers as to how we move about public spaces, apparently. so let’s get started!
stairs: this one’s pretty straight-forward; keep to the right and keep it moving, and try not to knock over old people on your way up or down them. most people i observe seem to understand how they work, but here’s a nuance you might be overlooking: don’t stop directly at the bottom of the stairs when you get there. there might actually be people behind you proceeding down that same flight of steps.
escalators: this is a pretty big issue, it seems, and one that can be summed up with the following phrase: ESCALATORS ARE NOT A FUCKING RIDE. if you’re old and clearly need frequent rest, you can have a pass, but if not, keep it moving. and if you’re so pathetic that you can’t, then make some fucking room so that i can get past you. escalators are supposed to speed your climb to a higher story, not cause you to stand there slack-jawed and enjoy the scenery. also, if you’re dragging shit with you and that’s why you’re not moving, then please see…
elevators: this is the proper way to roll your bags and carts and other goods with you. they’re not supposed to go on the escalator. anyway, elevators seem pretty easy for most people to navigate, so let’s work on this: if you see me press the button for a floor, don’t fucking hit the same button right after me. they light up so that you can tell they’ve been pressed. there’s really no excuse (“oh, i didn’t see that you hit floor 13 right before i hit floor 13” doesn’t work), so just make an effort, okay?
moving walkways: see also: escalators, “NOT A FUCKING RIDE.” again, they’re meant to speed us all up, not let you decide to sit there and have a machine walk for you. sometimes i end up stuck on one beyond some people just riding them, and all i can think of is “this is why America is full of so many damn fat people.”