Don’t Call Me A Jackass! (Jackass!)

Fifteen Rules for Surviving the NY Times Book Review

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14. If you want to have a highbrow discussion of books, perhaps the Times Book Review is not the place. I have a feeling that was Jacobs’ point. In the same issue that ran Jacobs’ essay, the editors of the NYTBR professed to like “very much” Queenan’s review because it showed “passion.” Hatred. “Queenan simply disliked Jacobs’ book,” they said, “which was his prerogative.” Queenan hated Jacobs’ book. He hated Jacobs. But not to worry, they said, a review is just one person’s opinion. “[O]ur judgment of a book is summed up in our decision to review it.” A review so maligning as to be noted by other media outlets, they claimed to be “a tribute.” If you can parse this logic, then you must be the smartest person in the world. “Hundreds of prepublication galleys reach our offices each week,” the editors wrote. “We have space to review only a few.”
Now we’re getting somewhere. I think I see where this is going. Yes! The golden rule!

15. Just be happy your book is reviewed… (Here it comes again) You unintelligent, humorless, mesmerizingly uninformative simpleton of a jackass.•

Lawrence Dieker Jr. is the author of Letters from Law School. His next book will be hailed by The New York Times as “both dispassionate and deeply engaged, complicated and simple, erudite and profoundly humane.”


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