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Let’s This Be a Lesson About Whining

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[I wrote this up earlier in the week and held off on posting it since there was a part of me that didn’t want to pay any attention to the whole thing. But it’s Friday and I figured what the heck, I’ll jump into the discussion.] 

I’ll openly admit that I frequently complain about our nation’s obsession with Nicole Ritchie’s weight, Brittney’s VMA debacle, and whatever sordid disappeared-mother-spouse-homicide-Gloria-Allred-party is filling the headlines of the day.

I’ll acknowledge that I hate the fact that literary book sales are so low and that intelligent, hard-working, groundbreaking authors struggle to make ends meet.

I’ll own up to feverishly writing rants about how hard it is to get paid, how hard it is to get read, and how hard it is to get attention.

I’ll even plead guilty to the fact that I naively started this blog in the first place because I wanted to somehow “expose” the shoddy treatment that authors receive from publishers, magazines, and the industry that relies on them.

What I’m trying to say is that I know I ain’t above a little bitchin’ now and again.

But if I ever come across as this whiny, as this bitter, miserable, and snobbish, please reach through the Comments tool and slap me.

Not satisfied with attacking America’s reading tastes, Peter Sacks insults his publicist, his friends, and some quirky statistical tools of Amazon. He starts out by sarcastically commenting, “I thought that was awfully sweet of her to point out after I’d spent three years of my life working eighty hours a week on my book, giving a pound of my flesh in the process. It was no sweat, like a casual stroll down to the 7-Eleven to buy a lottery ticket” when a publishing company publicist responds to his query.

He doesn’t take the time to mention the fact that she’s probably burdened with a ridiculously tight budget and that she’s probably dreading responding to his email and that she has half a dozen other midlist authors (as Sacks describes himself) to support. I’ve got my own complaints with certain publicists, but he’s taking a quick remark and making a huge deal out of it.

Then, Sacks turns on his “clueless friends” who rarely express interest in his book’s “substance.” Hope you weren’t at the last dinner party at the Sacks residence. You just got skewered on the Internet.

Finally, he manages to portray Amazon’s syllables-per-word statistic as a guide to easy books for semi-literate Americans. I’ve gotten a kick out of Amazon’s statistics, and maybe I’m just being naive, but I doubt anyone is going to say, “Whooo, I’m just dying to read that new William Vollman book. I absolutely adored Whores for Gloria and Rising Up and Rising Down. But shit, this new book is packing a walloping 2.3 syllables per word! Fuck that. I’m going to pick up the new Us Weekly instead.”

In fact, if we are truly “impervious to books about serious subjects” as Sacks suggests, then why in the world would anyone be looking at his book on Amazon in the first place? If we’re that clueless, then why would we think to scroll down to the Inside This Book section and click on the Text Stats link? Is Buffoon Bob really going to go to so much trouble to find out about syllable statistics?

I like Peter Sacks’s work. I really do. In fact, I’m one of the ten thousand people who purchase his books. I’m sure he’s a swell guy to hang out with. And I absolutely understand where he’s coming from. It’s an unfair lot that writers have been given. It’s a shame that more competent works don’t enjoy the same level of attention that celebutant “novels” get. But his post is just too much.