Morgan Meis on Malcolm Gladwell. Again.

Our own Morgan Meis in The Smart Set:

ScreenHunter_02 Dec. 18 10.40 A little background is in order. Last summer, I picked up Malcolm Gladwell's bestselling book Blink. Then I wrote a belated review for 3QuarksDaily. The book, like most everything Gladwell writes, is a fun and sometimes exciting read. But I decided that, in the end, there wasn't much of an argument in it. A nasty feeling crept over me. I wondered whether we'd all been duped into thinking that Gladwell had been saying something interesting when it really boiled down to well-placed anecdotes and well-told stories. The nasty feeling transformed into an admittedly nasty review titled “Down, I Say, Down With Malcolm Gladwell!”

I asked the reader to allow me to prove that Blink is “a piece of shit.” I talked about “sliminess” and “outright incoherence.” I called him a “huckster” (I've always liked that word) and then confessed that I hated his looks, “his hair scuffed up just so,” “his cute little suits.” And just for fun, I concluded the diatribe with the thought that the only thing that may salvage Gladwell as a human being is that he's a “bad fraud.” Done.

A couple of days later, I got an e-mail from Mr. Gladwell. He responded to my argument seriously and honestly and wondered, in good humor, whether I really needed to go after his hair and suits. I am a suck-up to power anyway but this disarmed me. Directly upon the heels of our civil and pleasant e-mail exchange, Gawker picked up my review as part of what they called the “Malcolm Gladwell backlash.” This was really too much. I have signed the notional contract that every pretentious intellectual has: We must at all times thumb our noses at Gawker. I began to feel bad about the tone of the review even in its humor. Rapidly, I capitulated. I wrote an apology to Malcolm, though, in an act of astounding bravery, I held to my basic philosophical position as regards Blink. I was, inevitably, denounced by most everyone I know for managing both to be a jerk and an ass-kisser all in one short week. Such is the plight of courageous men. History will absolve me.

But I promised one thing to my faithful readers and perhaps more importantly, to literary culture itself. I promised to review his next book, with a freshened eye. Well, the world of belles-lettres can release its collective breath. I have read the book. I am prepared to speak.