The New York Times panned my book, then had to correct the review to fix all their errors. So why am I not angry?
Patrick Somerville in Salon:
Last Sunday night I spent a good five minutes lying facedown on my couch, my head pressed into the crack between our old tan cushions, my arms pinned awkwardly under my chest, emitting a sequence of guttural moaning noises as my wife silently read Janet Maslin’s newly posted New York Times review of my novel, “This Bright River,” and then – after some gasps and one very disconcerting, empathy-laden, “Oh no” – attempted to describe the review’s contents aloud. I’d only been able to read the headline.
“It’s not positive,” she began firmly, and I pressed my head deeper into the couch, trying to get to its springs and asphyxiate. My wife, the sole adult member of our family, paraphrased the review: “Lack of purposefulness” was the first representative phrase she picked, and she next moved on to “jerry-built,” “desperate measure” and finally circled back around to “soggy.”
“No,” I said. “It does not say soggy.”
“It says soggy,” she repeated. “It does say soggy.”
As I am an atheist, I made noises directed at no one and nothing. I then, without removing my face from the couch-hole, picked up a throw pillow and gently placed it on the floor, blind.
My wife said nothing. It was 90 degrees in our living room, and the fan oscillated gloomily. Our cat, pleased, sensing a complicated kind of emotional dissolution in the works, jumped onto my back and sat down.