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You need no ticket to make a place for yourself here where humor, black and otherwise, comes to you from the stage where the human comedy itself is being played, its performance trumping the things dark and tragic and found in the world of literature.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
 
Oh, I'm Sorry

For those who haven't yet read Steve Almond's great piece on Salon, go here. I have a letter attached that makes clear my own stake in/feeling about the issue.

By the way, comments here are open, although most have left this story behind by now. Here I post about it only for my own record, as my Salon comments are pretty much all I want to say about the topic.
 
Comments:
Hey JD,

Interesting article. I found the author a bit prurient and full of himself, yet he still had the sense to point out how phoney this biz is. At least he was honest and aware of it. The Sarvas guy was just rather sad...

But really, this is just another gossip column among many - like like the opinion columnist who writes about their sunday bbq. It can be forgiven in a blog, for that's what it's for. But in Salon? The problem with commerce and literature (which Salon really wants to tie together) is that you are locked into putting stuff out. TV stinks so bad no so much because of the format, but because they have to do something on five-hundred channels, every day, 24-7 and make money on it. Magazines do the same thing. 'We need an article, ANY article!' The whole lit-blog phenomenon is kind of fascinating (and I have to say a pathetic reflection, on the most part, of in-fighting, snobbery and healy-feeliness of contemporary lit culture).

Just my opinion.
 
Forbes recently had a piece about how blog mobs attack brands -- and people -- and actually do a great deal of harm using only gossip and innuendo, which many readers who happen upon the posts take as gospel.

This echoed my letter in Salon responding to Almond's piece: there are naive readers/web surfers out there whose opinions can be tainted by litbloggers who try to pass themselves off as authoritative, when, in fact they are no more qualified to judge a work than anyone else.

Almond knew what he was doing with the article. Not to lean too heavily on the Forbes piece, but one of the tricks of those who want to wreck a reputation of a brand or pundit is to barrage their target with negativity posts on blogs and sites (fact based or totally questionable) until search engines will have overwhelmingly negative results for the subject. Sarvas was existing in a bubble of yes-bloggers (like corporate yes-men) who never took him to task for his over the top and nearly irrational critiques of writers. So in my opinion he may have deserved what he got from Almond. But Almond was acting alone, so there was no conspiracy to ruin Sarvas' rep.

But as one whose writing was trashed by the litblogger, who later, in an email to me implied he was at least twice the writer I was -- although the only real credit I could find in the non-academic world for him was an appearance in Pindeldyboz, which I have also appeared in -- I was quite pleased with Almond's take-down. And I was actually impressed with the level of his reserve, his verbal sexual slapstick notwithstanding.
 
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