Proving once again that its editorial team now prefers thoughtless and narcissistic essays over writing that chronicles the human condition, the Atlantic has commissioned Ann Patchett to throw a pity party about book tours. Look, if you’re an author and you can’t be bothered to have a bit of fun with a book tour, then you should either (a) insist on no book tours (as Denis Johnson and John Twelve Hawks have) or (b) stop bitching and moaning. Unless you suffer from Asperger’s or a Napoleon-like hubris, it takes exceptionally little skill to listen to someone and to remain patient even when a person has a predictable question that you’ve been asked four hundred times. (And besides, people are damn interesting, even when they ask obvious questions.) If you have any kind of brain, you can turn that question around into something complex and get the reader to think differently. A novel of yours from six years gets discussed? Tough titty, sweetheart. Once you’ve released the books to the public, they are no longer yours. Works you may deem greater or more significant won’t necessarily be what the audience deems greater or more significant. And what’s wrong with that? I don’t care if you’ve won the PEN/Faulkner or the Nobel. If you can’t appreciate the privilege of a literary life, then you deserve all the flack you get.
© 2008, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.