Worst … Profile … Ever.

By Kathryn Comment

youngfoer.jpgNext to Deborah Solomon’s profile of Jonathan Safran Foer in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, Barbara Walters’ pre-Oscar interviews seem sane, cynical, and impressively unfazed by the notion of ‘celebrity’:

When he smiles, he looks even younger, with teeth that seem too white and straight for a person of his depth … A kind of poet-wanderer, he does his writing all over town … The young Foer was flamboyant on the outside, grown-up on the inside … ”Jonathan has had to live with so much jealousy, it’s had me ripping my hair out.” …

Worse, though, than Solomon’s fulsome prose, is the sheepish but single-minded narcissism Foer brings to his role as interviewee. He applies a med school student’s discipline to the task of talking about himself, hoping, perhaps, that studiousness can obscure the elective nature of his self-importance. “In scarcely more than a month,” Solomon writes, she received “some 150 e-mail messages from Foer, many of them wickedly hilarious, others gravely literary, and running to thousands of words.” She continues:

During the weeks I was working on this article, he answered the questions that were put to him and reported on his whereabouts on a nearly daily basis; indeed, sometimes on an hourly basis. A kind of epistolary climax was reached one Sunday earlier this month, when I received a total of 19 e-mail messages from him…

”I think it would be nice to meet again,” he wrote one day. ”It will give me a chance to give you a fuller picture — even if the fuller picture is not a better picture. . . . It pains me to think that I have not yet given you enough about me, as a person.

When it comes to JSF, I don’t think it’s fair to write off people’s dislike for him as jealousy. It’s not his success people dislike; it’s his personality, which we wouldn’t be acquainted with if not for his success.