I Am Not a Jackass

An essay by A.J. Jacobs in the New York Times Book Review about the review his book received there:

Jacobs But nothing — absolutely nothing — was as strange as the review I received in these very pages. This was no ordinary write-up. After a blissful monthlong honeymoon with the critics, my book — called ”The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World,” a lighthearted account of the year I spent reading the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica — got one of the most mean-spirited reviews in the 154-year history of The New York Times. The writer — a humorist named Joe Queenan — seemed genuinely angry with me, as if I had transported his niece across state lines. He called me a simpleton. He said I was so dumb, I wasn’t even ”the smartest person at Entertainment Weekly” (the magazine where I used to work). He referred to me as a ”jackass.” A jackass. In The New York Times Book Review. I flipped around to the other reviews. Did they call Philip Roth a doofus? Did they call Gish Jen a nitwit? No, just me. A jackass. The review was so vicious it was written up in The Village Voice, on several blogs and, oddly enough, in Women’s Wear Daily. Yes, when your book review is mentioned next to articles about taffeta, you know it’s bad.

More here.