The Effect of Reviewing Backwards

Big news from the Times this morning: An Amazon glitch unmasked the psuedonyms of reviewers. One “David K. Eggers” (confirmed to be Eggers) called Believer editor Heidi Julavits’ novel “the best book of the year.” Eggers’ response was put up to counter negative criticisms that he believed to stem from the Underground Literary Alliance. But it turns out that everyday people thought that the Julavits book sucked. Did Julavits author the anti-snark manifesto to prevent not so much “savage” reviews, but the singling out of her own mediocre writing? Most people in this business have thick skins and can simply ignore negative reviews. Furthermore, how ethical is it for a close associate to post a book review because of their own paranoia? The more I hear about Eggers’ shenanigans, the more I am convinced that, behind the “nice guy” image, the talent, and the charity, lies an unethical and highly scrupulous enfant terrible. Then again, much of this impression is, like Eggers’ ULA conspiracy theory, framed on hunches and things I’ve heard from bookstore clerks. The difference is that I’m willing to admit that I might be wrong.