Marisha Pessl's new 600-page thriller Night Film centers on a fictional recluse named Stanislas Cordova, who made films so horrifically, soul-destroyingly evil they were effectively banned in the U.S. When his beautiful young daughter mysteriously dies, an investigative journalist becomes infected with the need to pursue the truth behind this seemingly sinister family.
The New York Times supplied a copy of Mark Leibovich's obsessively anticipated study of Washington self-obsession, This Town, to onetime Boston Globe Washington bureau chief David Shribman—who now does something or other in Pennsylvania or maybe Ohio?—and the paper was rewarded with a book review that begins like this:
A thorough, deliberate hatchet job is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. It is for this reason no one could remove their eyes from Pete Well's review of Guy's American Kitchen & Bar last month; it is for this reason that Adam Mars-Jones was given an award by newly-minted Hatchet Job of the Year for dismantling Michael Cunningham's (of "The Hours? They should call this thing The Weeks!" fame) new book, By Nightfall, earlier this year.
There's a hidden curse to being a current or former top editor at the New York Times. Yes, you've held one of the most powerful positions in journalism. But who is going to edit you? Nobody, not very stringently, at least. So we find that when current or former NYT editors engage in writing for their paper, it often could have used a heavy round of editing, into the trashcan.
A couple of weeks ago, hot shot New Yorker wonderboy Jonah Lehrer was forced to resign after he was revealed to have fabricated Bob Dylan quotes in his book Imagine. Remember that? Yeah. It was in all the newspapers and websites and radio stations and whatnot. The only place the news did not reach: deepest, coolest, fauxhemian Brooklyn. (And Manhattan. "Brooklyn" is just a brand name.)
In light of the "hullabaloo" surrounding BDSM novel Fifty Shades of Grey, elderly Smithtown, New York resident David Shobin gave the lusty lady book a read. Afterwards, he penned a powerfully ambivalent Amazon book review that has since been quoted in The Los Angeles Times and Vanity Fair. (Both publications quoted Shobin as a nameless "Amazon reviewer.")
Why not. YouTube will determine the next president and whether we bomb Iran, it might as well shrink James Wood's column inches in the New Yorker. I'm already experiencing the anxiety of a certain kind of influence in watching this ebullient young critic analyze Tom Rob Smith's Child 44. Future belletrists, take note. Edmund Wilson had to go to Princeton, edit F. Scott Fitzgerald, lose his cherry to Edna St. Vincent Millay, and learn half a dozen languages to be taken seriously. That's what happens when you've got a face made for text messaging.