Add “Humorless” to E—–‘ CV

As Beatrice has pointed out, there’s more to the Michael Chabon hoax (profiled in the current issue of Bookforum) then meets the eye. It seems that He Who Shall Not Be Named fired Paul Maliszewski from McSweeeney’s for sending out a fabricated email containing lies about various writers. E—– claims that it wasn’t funny. I’ve tried Googling around for the particular email, but I’ve had no luck. Later today, I’m going to pick up the latest issue of Bookforum to see if I can get more answers from the complete Maliszewski article. But if any of the “hundreds of people around New York” (perhaps regular Reluctant readers?) have the email in question, I’d certainly be curious if the newsletter was a funny Kaufmanesque exercise that went over E—–‘ oversensitive head or a genuine atrocity.

[UPDATE: I’ve emailed Maliszewski and if he has any thoughts on this article, I’ll post them with his consent. I should point out that NYT reporter Alex Mindlin tried getting in touch with Maliszewski by email and phone, but couldn’t get through. So presumably Maliszewski is either deliberately remaining silent or has sequestered himself from humanity. Whatever the case, these pages remain open to him.]

[UPDATE 2: Maliszewski says he has no specific comment on the Eggers comments and directs all curious individuals to his Bookforum article. He writes that it’s “a serious investigation and a fair piece of journalism and is based on my extensive interviews with Chabon, two people at Nextbook, and several members of the audience. It would have been nice to let all that work do the talking, but that doesn’t seem to be possible.” Maliszewski has talked with Dennis Loy Johnson about the Chabon scam and, as soon Dennis has his column finished, I’ll link to it.]

One Comment

  1. Forgive the nom de plume but I’m avoiding the Wrath of Dave. In late 2001 I (and apparently a number of people whose names were culled from the McSweeney’s e list) began receiving, about two or three times a month, emails with the subject heading “The Pearl Report,” signed Allan Pearl. (This is the name of Eugene Levy’s character in “Waiting For Guffman” but I don’t know if that was the reference intended by “Pearl.”) The epistles purported to relate various gossipy tidbits, mostly about Tom Beller and the three Jonathans – Ames, Franzen, Lethem. (Though I think Chabon and maybe even Eggers figured in a few items.)
    To give you an example – one item, as memory serves, alleged that J Lethem, tiring of the effort involved in signing a ltd edition in the late ’90s, rounded up a young, unknown friend of his named Colson Whitehead to forge his signature on the books, and that these forgeries could be identified by Whitehead’s having written a microscopic “CW” in the corner of each leaf in which he wrote Lethem’s name. (The joke may not be obvious to Dave but I can see it – such a book, thanks to its Whitehead connection, would be worth more than the usual ltd Lethem. But I suppose Lethem would have been unhappy about the allegation – since he’s the former rare-books specialist at Moe’s in Berkeley, this would indeed be rather a slur.) But more often the items were of the Tom-was-seen-with-Parker-the-other-night kind, rather harmless.
    After several months of such hijinks, circa the spring of 2002, a young lady came up to Ames at a reading in darkest Brooklyn, informed him that she was “Pearl’s” ex-girlfriend, and spilled the beans. Ames told Dave. At which point Dave did the stuff that makes him so eminently qualified to replace the ‘zinger-man at the Holy Office, now that the dude’s moved on up.
    After this all went down, I did some Googling for a while to see what turned up online, but there never was a thing. Such was life in the dim, dark days before litblogs. As to where the Pearl Reports could be found now – maybe the deepest, darkest recesses of the cast-aside laptops of the Jonathans could yield some answers.

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