Well, now that it’s out in the open, and Jessa seems to want to turn this into a contentious war (which it isn’t and it shouldn’t be), I’ll go on public record and state that Jessa has pilfered links from my site many times. I know this to be true, because specific phrasing that I’ve used here has been recycled without credit for her site. In one case, she believed my satirical embellishment about Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye being under review because kids were exchanging “penis jokes” in the classroom to be true. Seemed obvious enough malarkey to me. But I e-mailed Jessa all the same with a correction.
Instead of a brief thank you or a self-deprecating acknowledgment in her post that she was wrong aw shucks, the link was changed without comment and my email went unanswered.
Jessa’s blogging tendencies certainly don’t bother me as much as other people. (And I don’t know of any names or conspiracy going on here really.) But I’m absolutely mystified why she would think that my email (among many, apparently) was an attack, when it was a jokey courtesy, intended solely for her benefit, puncutated with a smiley face. I’m also perplexed why she would go after Teachout (one of the classiest cats in the biz) and, more interestingly, the blogging community.
A few words about the book-blogging community, and why they’re so damned hep: Since I restarted this blog in December with an emphasis on books and literature, I’ve discovered fascinating new sites, I’ve had e-mail exchanges with nifty people who have alerted me to ideas and writers I had never heard about, and I’ve been extremely grateful for how these folks have helped me to develop my own thinking about literature. The general clime is a marvelous, sharp, and jokey bunch who, yes, reference and wink at each other, but also support each other. They also look out for each other from time to time. It’s a bit like being part of one of the coolest block parties on the planet.
I certainly respect Jessa for being one of the first book blogs on the Net. I still check out her site on a daily basis. Can’t help myself. And, again, I’m not certain if Teachout’s citation thing is as big a deal to me as it is to others.
But in misinterpreting a supportive effort as “an attack,” in not being courteous enough to respond to those who reward her with links, stories, corrections, or thoughtful book reviews, all gratis, I think Jessa’s out of line. I’ve suggested to others who are extremely infuriated with her that it’s just “a Jessa thang,” that it ain’t a big deal, and to not take it personally.
But if we recall last year’s gross characterization of Jessa as a vodka-swilling, shorts-absconding social climber, we begin to see how neglecting simple courtesies often creates these misunderstandings.
And in this case, Jessa’s very wrong. It’s a colossal mistake to dismiss the book blog community. We’re not the Bill Kellers or the Laura Millers. We’re the ones who give more than six damns (or in Lizzie’s case, multiple fucks) about literature.
It’s almost as unpardonable as forgetting to say “Thank you.”