Friday, August 11, 2006

Great Moments in Literary Feuds

Jon Stewart vs. Tucker Carlson
One of the defining moments from this generation's defining commentator. In 2004, while promoting his massive bestseller AMERICA: The Book, Stewart appeared on "Crossfire" and proceeded to make a complete mockery of The Bowtied One. If you listen closely, you can hear Carlson's career going down the toilet. Watch Part 1, then Part 2. And you can totally thank Stewart for this.

Al Franken vs. Bill O'Reilly
Probably the most entertaining public spectacle relating to books, well, ever. Watch the clip here (scroll halfway down the page) from the 2003 BEA. Just check out that blowup of Franken's book LIES. Looks like O'Reilly's face is suffering from botulism.

Steve Almond vs. Mark Sarvas
Which all started over a blog where Sarvas took Almond (CANDYFREAK) to task for being infatuated with himself. Read Sarvas's comments first, then check out Almond's response in Salon where he chalks it up to Sarvas being, er, infatuated with him. Right.

A.J. Jacobs vs. Joe Queenan
Queenan ripped apart Jacobs's THE KNOW-IT-ALL in the New York Times, going so far as to call Jacobs a "jackass." Which led to Jacobs responding in, of course, The New York Times, taking the high road by noting that his book was much more successful than Queenan's. So there.

Sarah Weinman and Lee Goldberg vs. Otto Penzler
Legendary (and legendarily crotchety) bookman Penzler, founder of the Mysterious Press and the Mysterious Bookshop, has been penning a weekly column for the New York Sun which has come under fire for sexism, elistism, and many other "isms." First Lee Goldberg (Shamus-nominated author of MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE and the MONK tie-in books) took Penzler to task for his "embarassing" statements. Then Sarah Weinman, book reviewer and writer for Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind and Galleycat, offered statistical proof that the public seems to care a great deal more for the books that Penzler has criticized than for the books he's published.

Joe Queenan (who else) vs. Donald Trump vs. Mark Singer and Jeff MacGregor
Singer wrote a snarky profile of Trump for The New Yorker in 1997. MacGregor reviewed of a collection of Singer's work in which he also made fun of The Donald. Trump then published a letter in the Times criticizing both of them for writing poorly, referencing an article by Queenan which Donald thought was quite complimentary. Little did He Of The Gigantic Weave realize that Queenan was actually subtly (or unsubtly) completely mocking The Donald. Tons of unintentional comedy abound.

Ed Champion and a Plate of Brownies vs. Sam Tanenhaus
New York Times Book Review editor Tanenhaus has been criticized for the Review's lack of attention paid to contemporary fiction, its gimmicky issues, as well as its lack of female reviewers. Blogger Ed Champion took the criticism a step further by instituting a Tanenhaus "Brownie Watch," in which he would offer Tanenhaus a brownie every time the NYTBR was fair and balanced, and withholding the scrumptious treat every time it skewed heavily towards non-fiction and wrinkly old white guys.

Dale Peck vs. Stanley Crouch (and Crouch's fist)
Peck, noted literary assassin and author of HATCHET JOBS (who once called Rick Moody "the worst writer of his generation") gave an unsurprisingly unkind review to Crouch's DON'T LOOK THE MOON LONESOME. Crouch responded in Salon by calling Peck "a troubled queen." A few years later,Crouch approached Peck, who was lunching at Tartine, and bitch slapped him across the face. Sadly, he was not holding a hatchet at the time.

Colson Whitehead vs. Richard Ford
Whitehead, critically accalimed author of THE INTUITIONIST, skewered Ford's A MULTITUDE OF SINS in The New York Times. Ford, taking a page from the Stanley Crouch playbook, approached Whitehead at a Poets & Writers party, and hawked a loogie on him. Wonder if Frank Bascombe would approve.

6 Comments:

Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

You missed one.

Involving a variety of people, in part led by this guy who has a book coming out next year who also happens to be an editor whose initials are JP, against a certain person accusing a group of being sexist...

I didn't know the writing world had so many arguments. And here I was, thinking it was just me...

11:47 AM  
Blogger DAVID THAYER said...

Jason, Going back a few years Norman Mailer punching Gore Vidal was as good as any bench clearing brawl.

1:51 PM  
Blogger fairest said...

rick moody is the worst writer of his generation.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I'd like to hit Truman Capote with an umbrella for not writing another book after In Cold Blood.

Someone go dig him up...

3:43 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Jon Stewart rocks. In addition to taking down Tucker Carlson, he's dismembering the Holy Grail of broadcast journalism: the network evening news. See "Young Get News from Comedy Central".

12:26 PM  
Blogger PJ Parrish said...

Jason,

Here's a couple of chest-beating goodies to add to your collection:

Norman Mailer once described Tom Wolfe's work akin to: "making love to a 300-pound woman. Fall in love or be asphyxiated".

And John Irving on Wolfe's A Man in Full: "If I were teaching fucking freshman English, I couldn't read that and not just carve it up."

Now now, boys...play nice.

11:45 AM  

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