Critical Linking

Critical Linking: February 23, 2012

Jeff O'Neal

CEO and co-founder

Jeff O'Neal is the executive editor of Book Riot and Panels. He also co-hosts The Book Riot Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @thejeffoneal.


“Just when Ms. O’Brien began to fear that “The Dressmaker” would be relegated to a bottom desk drawer like so many rejected novels, Ms. Newberg came up with a different proposal: Try to sell it under a pen name.

Written by Kate Alcott, the pseudonym Ms. O’Brien dreamed up, it sold in three days.”

Not sure if this is cool, frustrating, insulting, or just ridiculous. But it is something.


“And then, as if quivering with barely suppressed outrage, he wrote: “Really, I want to protest that I am a good deal more ‘conscious’ of what I am doing … than Mendelsohn … has repeatedly alleged.” At the end, he makes his most damning charge—that Mendelsohn, a literary critic, has misread the use of the press photographer Jerry Goldblatt in a “section of the book set in 1926” that was “deployed precisely to illustrate the prejudicial attitudes of Dudley Valance. … To mistake this … historical prejudice for the unconscious habit of the author is so primitive an error [my italics] as to cause some concern for Daniel Mendelsohn’s judgment.”

Anytime an author responds to a critic, it boils down to “you are a moron who doesn’t get it.”


“Thus the death of Borges’s father and Naipaul’s father left space clear for the sons to work. They would only have powerful ghosts rather than real presences looking over their shoulders, ghosts whom they could dismiss at will. Like Picasso, whose father was a failed painter, or William James, whose father was a failed essayist, they could compensate for their fathers’ failure, while killing off the fathers’ indolent influence. They could show their mother, or indeed the world, who was the real man in the household.”

I thought we all agreed that Freud was wrong? Did I miss a memo reversing that?


“I think Grammar Girl just filled a niche,” she told me. “There were a lot of science podcasts, but there wasn’t another grammar podcast. And what makes Grammar Girl different from a lot of other material out there is that a lot of grammar writing is snarky, and my goal was to really help people, to be friendly and approachable and be slightly entertaining. So I wasn’t putting people down in a way that a lot of writing about grammar does.”

Hmmm. My Style Stud podcast idea seems a little Johnny-Come-Lately all of sudden.


The studio says in its lawsuit, filed Feb. 17 in United States District Court in New York, that the second sequel “tarnished” the “Godfather” series and misled readers to believe it had been authorized by Paramount.

“Hey not fair! Only we can tarnish the Godfather franchise” -Paramount Exec that greenlit The Godfather III.