Yes, book reviewers want to be authors–you got a problem with that?

So Janet Maslin reviewed Bright Shiny Morning writing in the style of her subject (“Little Pieces of Los Angeles, Done His Way,” New York Times):

He wrote a book but it was bad, liar bad, faker bad, it got him in trouble. A million little pieces. It was the name of the book. It was also how hard he got hit. He had to sit there on the couch. Everybody saw. The television celebrity book club woman got mad, she let him have it. He had to sit there on the couch. He squirmed, he cringed. Everybody watched, everybody blamed him. Then it was over. Then he was gone.

Galleycat notes that Sam Anderson did Richard Price better than Janet Maslin does James Frey (“Stalking the Gramno,” New York). Keir Graff concurs. Keir Graff also can’t imagine how he could have missed it, what with being a New York subscriber and all.

Stanny Henderson stagger-stumbled twelve minutes late into the middle of the Lush Life book-review prelim tactical-strategy session, just off an all-nighter with a little sidebar that’d given him way more hell than it was worth; eyes burning, fingertips sore, the paper-cut scar on his palm throbbing like the ghost of last year’s hatchet job come back screaming bloody vengeance; wouldn’t be here at all except this editor Ross had his balls in a sling over a mistake he’d made seven months ago, misquotation that’d nearly cost him his job. He choked down three fingers of ice-cold chamomile, brewed from a weak bag three days earlier, Sputnik’d the crumpled cup into the trash can, and slumped into an Aeron. Ross just warming up now, bracketed over the table edge, laying into the other three; didn’t even look up.

Keir Graff, besides having a strong affinity for the idea of a “book-review procedural,” had no idea this was going to be a “thing” when, back in 2003 and 2004, he did Tom Paine . . .

While doing some unauthorized pearl diving, they rescue this gorgeous Arab chick who turns out to be an honest-to-god princess! They’re totally stoked! Desert Shield turns into Desert Storm, and these jarheads go off on totally picaresque adventures that culminate in an AWOL trip behind enemy lines to rescue Princess Lulu again! They’ve got good hearts, even though they’ve got short attention spans and cause a lot of unintentional mayhem–but that’s America, dude!

. . . and James Ellroy:

Dig him, hepcats: James Ellroy, demon dog, narrator of nocturnes, alliterative all-star of the caper canon. His Quartet pegged L.A. with coffin nails. He flash-bulbed bad cops unflinchingly. Sin fans salivated. But Ellroy had bigger fish to batter.

Keir Graff would like to inform you that he is done writing in third person, at least for today.

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About the Author:

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.

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