By Kathryn

Among the reasons A.J.Jacobs’ response to Joe Queenan’s review of The Know-It-All was so appealing was the symmetry it achieved by appearing in the very publication it addressed. A similar pleasure princible might also be at work in the Observer‘s write-up of that lit crit skirmish, which displays the shameful consequences of following Queenan’s advice to Jacobs — trading in EW for Proust — too closely:

“Jacobs seems to have the idea that nobody’s ever written a nasty review before,” said Mr. Queenan. “He should take a look at Scott Peck’s reviews… Have you read Scott Peck?”

No, but apparantly, Queenan has — and, next to Scott’s work, EW looks positively Proustian.