Wait — I'm Defending PW?

Over at the Publishers Weekly blog, Notes from the Bookroom, Jonathan Segura notes (“McSweeney’s Interns Give Good Note“) that, just because something is handwritten, that doesn’t mean it was written especially for you. Basically, the good, sincere folks at McSweeney’s have hit upon the brilliant ploy of using a very, very old-fashioned means of mimeo to reproduce their form letters:

Until I grab the second galley, which also, it turns out, has a note tucked into it. A nearly identical note. From Angela. Written in stodgy black ink. (A standard Bic, I’m thinking.) And the penmanship’s way different and seemingly the product of a younger hand. And I suddenly felt less bad and, sadly, less special, having received not a friendly little note, but instead the product of what I imagine to be the summer intern gulag, a chain gang of unpaid college kids scratching out note after note after note.

What’s especially brilliant is that, because of the sincerity of all things McSweeney, instead seeming simply cynical, it can also be viewed as some sort of art project, a commentary on the very nature of the publicist-reviewer relationship. Or at least a cheeky prank.

I was surprised, however, at the indignation in some of the post’s comments – how dare PW have a laugh at the expense of the sincere folks at McSweeney’s!?

Does PW review books, or the submission practices of publicists?

Lighten up, already. What are blogs for, if not a peek behind the scenes?

(Thanks, Dan’l!)

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Keir Graff is the editor of Booklist Online and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix.

2 Comments on "Wait — I'm Defending PW?"

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  1. richard@softskull.com' Richard Nash says:

    I’m with you man I thought it was hilarious, I told all our interns about it (our interns are so overworked they don’t even have time to do that!)

  2. Keir says:

    Maybe they could photocopy their handwritten responses?

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