There’s one other thing I should note about Malcolm Jones’ laziness. I was contacted by the book’s publicist to interview Vikram Chandra. I offered profuse apologies to the very nice publicist, pointing out that, as good as this sounded, I simply did not have the time in my schedule to read the 900-page book. You see, I wanted to give Chandra the same respect that I give to all the authors I talk with, which involves reading the book from start to finish and actively thinking about it.
I have never interviewed a single author in which I have not finished the book. And I refuse to talk with an author in a long-form interview if I am not permitted enough time to do this. (And I’ve had to cancel out on some very good authors because of this. Alas, one can only do so much.)
The mainstream media has long accused bloggers of being lazy reporters. If anything, this Malcolm Jones flap illustrates that some mainstream media reviewers might possibly be lazier.
To me, it seems a requisite that if you are being paid to write a review, whether you like the book or hate it, you should be professional enough to read it to the very end. Whether the book is 200 pages or 1,000 pages. Whether the book is breezy or dense. Whether the book employs arcane words and references or employs a less demanding timbre. That Jones could not fulfill this basic duty suggests to me that he has no business writing book reviews. He should leave this to the professionals.