Thursday, August 26, 2010

Franzen v. Picoult

After Time Magazine and the NY Times made a big fuss over Franzen's new book, Freedom, Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner and a few other authors posted on Twitter about their own experiences (or non-experiences) with the Times.  Basically, they feel that the Times is being run by white males who are focusing their positive reviews (and pretty much all of their reviews) on other white males.  Picoult's books have been given poor reviews in the past by the NYT.

Picoult wrote "NYT raved about Franzen's new book. Is anyone shocked? Would love to see the NYT rave about authors who aren't white male literary darlings."

And Weiner added "Carl Hiaasan doesn't have to choose between getting a Times review and being a bestseller. Why should I? Oh right #girlparts."

You can check out an interview with Picoult and Weiner here.

The question I'd like to discuss is not whether or not the NYT or Time Magazine or anyone else shows preference to white males.  That is being discussed EVERYWHERE right now, and there are people who are much more knowledgable to lead those debates.  My question is whether or not it is in bad form for authors to complain about other authors getting good reviews.  Honestly my first thought when reading all this was that whether or not the NYT is right or wrong, Picoult and Weiner aren't doing themselves any good publicity favors by publicly posting their sour grapes.  What do you think?  Is it tacky for an author to put down another author's good review?

9 comments:

  1. It IS bad form to complain about other authors getting good reviews, and even worse form to presume that your work is on par with the author's work who got that good review. Seems like the larger issue (at least for Weiner) is that they're mad that the NY Times doesn't review best-selling womens fiction. Reasonable minds can disagree about that, I think, but you're right, at the end of the day neither Picoult nor Weiner is doing herself any publicity favors. They just sound like whiners.

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  2. Hmm. This is a hard topic for me to think about! I really not sure how I'm feeling. I do see Picoult and Weiner's point of views about not getting reviewed much, or well on the NYT list, and how the male authors do. Only thing I can really think about is what they mentioned -- it's males on the board of the NYT, so they read more male books than they do women's due to the stereotype of girls writing sappy romance novels. However, Jodi Picoult doesn't write sappy romance novels -- she writes about true life situations. So, why isn't she getting reviewed the way she should? Maybe I am being biased because she's one of my all time favorite authors. So yes, I do understand what they're saying, how it's wrong, how they want to be treated fairly, etc. However, it is a little, unprofessional, (is that the right word to be used here?) to tweet or post publicly what they think. But, then again, they have every right to speak their minds/opinions/thoughts and how they feel! I don't think it's necessarily the fact that they're complaining about others getting better reviews then they did, I think it's the general idea that it may possibly be a gender issue. I highly doubt they have something against the authors themselves. Ya know?

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  4. Gender discrimination is definitely very frustrating so I can see where Picoult and Weiner would feel cheated and upset by the situation. However, they are professional figures, and publicly bashing the NYT via the internet is tacky and shows a lack of class. Again, I hate to see what appears to be gender discrimination, but speaking out online sounds childish and disrespectful to the author that received the good review.

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  5. I'm getting sort of annoyed by the daily tweeting going on and really don't have a huuuge opinion on it. Though I do think that the NYT should exapnd what they review and have a vast array of reviewers doing it so the same type books/authors aren't constantly getting the reviews.

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  6. While I do think it's poor form to put down another author's good review (or another author), I think they make a point. I just think it could have been handled better. It's very hard to get your point across on Twitter, though, when you're discussing such a huge issue. I think the interview made their points a lot more clear than the tweets from throughout the day. (Plus Weiner is kind of known for being tongue-in-cheek so you have to give her some credit there. I think she was trying to keep her voice in the tweets while still addressing the issue.)

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  7. I honestly hadn't heard of this before. I don't think it fair to point out another author for getting a rave review, but I do think they are entitled to their own opinion. I don't think it's great publicity but at the end of the day they are people too and not only authors.

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  8. I haven't read Jonathan Franzen's book yet (although I have it, ready to be signed any day now) so I can't comment about the quality of his writing. I can say that I like Picoult and Weiner's books and they may have a valid point. I just think the way they chose to state their point invalidated what they were saying for a lot of people. If you think the NYT is ignoring female authors, get some data together and challenge the publication. But by mentioning a specific review by a specific author (in a very public way) your point gets lost in the assumption that you're just bitter.

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  9. Absolutely tacky and I completely agree with your sentiment. I can't stand these self-proclaimed "feminists" pointing their fingers for the blame of their own lack of success. Perhaps it's because you're a shitty writer?

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