NYTBR Flunks Journalism 101?

By Neal Comment

I commented yesterday afternoon on Liesl Schillinger’s slam on bookbloggers in this weekend’s NYTBR cover story, and though my immediate reaction centered around the fact that Schillinger failed to identify her sources (one of whom was Sarah), somebody showed me a much greater flaw in the article this morning.

[Schillinger writes:]“When the news came out that a distractingly pretty actress, playwright and Barnard College graduate named Marisha Pessl, only 27, had sold her first book (which she also illustrated)—a ‘Nabokovian’ thriller about an intellectual widower and his precocious daughter—for a substantial sum, the pick-a-little, talk-a-little publishing blog brigade went into conniptions. ‘She’s the latest in a long, long line to suffer from “Hot Young Author Chick” Syndrome,’ one blogger grumbled; another wrote in a headline, ‘It’s Not About Marisha Pessl’s Looks and Money—Is It?’ and asked if the book would have been snapped up so quickly if Pessl hadn’t had such a ‘drool-worthy author photo.'”

When the news came out, Schillinger writes…but the dates on Sarah’s blog post and Jessa Crispin’s article (which, as we established yesterday, wasn’t a blog) are more than a year apart. And yet Schillinger has conflated these two items as if they were written within moments of each other in part of some imaginary spontaneous anti-Pessl backlash. And I do mean imaginary; maybe I’m just using the wrong Google search terms, but I’m not finding anything from early 2005 that could be described as bloggerbashing on Pessl. Given that this weekend’s Review also features an apology for mischaracterizing a figure in a non-fiction book as “foul-mouthed” when, as the Times admits, “the one mild vulgarism [the book] attributes to her did not merit the adjective,” I think it’s not entirely unreasonable to ask if anybody’s bothering to checking up on these book reviewers, and when can we expect a correction of Schillinger’s piece? Although, to be honest, I’m sure Sarah and I would settle for the back-page column; we’d certainly be able to deliver more timely stories for it than just about anybody else they’ve put there in recent months…not to mention less grossly distorted.