March 30, 2005



Generational, maybe. But you must, on some level, know it's unfair to say you "leave the cult of celebrity and its attendant obsessions to those who find it interesting." If I were writing about what I myself find most interesting, I'd be writing Cup of Chicha (or your favorite blog: AnOther).

On a similar note: when you're (meaning, when I'm) not writing in the voice that comes most naturally, it can be esp. difficult to know the effect of the writing. Some days, I feel like I'm, I don't know, playing catch with prosthetic arms, or flying a jet without visibility. So, comments on what is or isn't working help me out, and I'll try to make use of this latest round of feedback.

Dan Green

If JSF has any sense at all, he'll get out of the "media presence" game altogether. Whether he's being defended by you (and I agree with your defense) or being critiqued by Nathalie, it's deflecting attention away from his work and onto his "personality." I can't believe he wants this.

Jim Ruland

Nathalie, this sounds an awful lot like the "evil twin" defense, which has worked well for me in the past, but only to a point. Does one have to be familiar with the various voices you employ in various blogs to "get" this post? Does one have to be familiar with all these modes to take issue with what you've written? I'm confused.


I'm not sure why admitting that I often find my job difficult and feel unsure about GC's tone means I'm abdicating responsibility.

But is there a difference between what I write about on GC and what I'm most interested in? Predictably, yes. It's a job, not a journal.

For that reason and others, GC shouldn't represent a generation's preferences. (And, yeah, I know Mark's "generational" dig shouldn't be read or taken seriously, but I've noticed before that Mark associates certain age groups with certain tastes & reading styles. In his Sep. 24 post on Mitchell v, Hazard, he conjectured that his preference for Hazard could mean he'd finally "gotten old." Younger generations, he suggested, might have less tolerance for "books where nothing much happens" and "quiet truths" predominate. As an avowed fan of slow, plotless books, I found that generational characterization inaccurate and slightly self-aggrandizing.)


To separate the “cult of celebrity” from a discussion of Jonathan Safran Foer is kind of ludicrous: his persona and its controversies are as much a part of his career AS his writing. His publisher no more pays him mega-bucks for his writing than a movie studio pays Lindsay Lohan millions for her acting skills. In fact, his invocation of personal anecdotage in the context of a discussion of his work reminds me a lot of when, in promoting a movie, Hollywood stars trot out stories about their personal connection to a character they’re playing. JSF knows well the game he plays, hence his willingness to parade his rehearsed shtick for Deborah Solomon et al. If we don’t “critique the media persona of a writer” who’s being paid (arguably) out of all proportion to his talent, then, rather than disdaining this system in which celebrity is valued over the work itself, we’re endorsing it.


I've got six weeks of brownies here. Anybody want some?


On the first go round I bit my tongue and went about my business(such as it is) .But I can't resist saying that the "public person" status of writers does not excuse anyone from engaging in high school cafeteria style jeering and taunting. When Foer made a NYC rag's ( a term I use sparingly) 50 Loathsome New Yorker's list I wondered where the animus was coming from. Dare I suggest that none of the people trashing young Jon could withstand the scrutiny and asinine posturing.

And Ms GC after her lapse in judgement regarding her ULA/Tom Bissell post went on to publish an attack on Kevin Guilfoyle's debut novel under the guise of airing out the tedious ( using the discredited Fox Network gambit of "some say" or "it's been said") charges of chuminess and literary weblog cluster fucking. I guess she might of understood the narrow line she was treading because she promised a Part II of that post. Did I miss it?

Which "voice", or persona was responsible for the above mentioned? Actually more to the point, what audience was it being written for?


You didn't miss it--in fact, it was promised a second time, but never did turn up.

Since I started this whole ball rolling, I'd like to point out that I find the whole "blogger war" meme not at all interesting, and that in retrospect I probably should have ended that item five words earlier. I'd like to think that we can treat blogs as objects of criticism the same as books, without every criticism turning into a referendum on somebody's character, and I can see how my choice of words may have fallen short of that.

Jimmy Beck


I'm starving. I hope you laced those bad boys with something.


Six weerk old brownies?

Nathalie Chicha

Me again, sorry. 4 things...

1. My post about how lit blogs treat books by other bloggers did not, in my opinion, reiterate "tedious charges of chuminess and literary weblog cluster fucking." I stated my opinion that the MSM's vilification of blogs has been absurd, but that the letter I received raised a point I hadn't heard discussed before (and if it has, apologies) -- namely, that, if blogs feel a duty to push friends' and fellow bloggers' books, the personal vibe most blogs are treasured for might also be what makes blogs bad replacements for the MSM. Or, put another way: What standards (if any) should we hold lit blogs' book endorsements to? And, do bloggers treat blogrolled writers' books differently than others? As blogs become more serious and more popular, I think these are valid questions.

2. The comparison of that post to my deeply regretted post linking to the ULA seems inexact and unfair. The latter post quoted a claim that was factually inaccurate. The prior quoted an anonymous tip submission that asked questions I wanted to respond to.

3. Yeah, no Part II. I was sick and not on the ball.

4. My comment on GC's tone not always coming naturally to me really wasn't meant as an "evil twin" defense but rather as a way to say that, on many levels, I appreciate the feedback and feel I still need feedback.

Ok. That's all. Sorry to be a comment-hog.

Angela Stubbs

I agree with Dan. The cult of celebrity is something that regardless of your talent (or in some cases, lack of talent--Paris Hilton) takes over. The actor, writer, singer is no longer known for the art they create but also, how/what they say outside of their work. I agree wholeheartedly that any smart person would not wish for any additional media attention (aside from the necessary publicity of the actual work itself) to be thrust upon them. Unless of course you aren't in it for the work, but rather enjoy the hoopla involved with media antics.


I fatwa in your general direction.

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