Came across this Tweet this morning:
This means that, for instance, when a completely unoriginal, flat book gets pushed by its publisher as the next great American novel, the initial wave of reviews just picks up on the pre-written narrative about the narrative and praises the new book for being pleasantly reminiscent of older, better books. To wit:Although Gasda does not mention this book by name, I knew -- just knew -- that he had to be referring to The Art of Fielding (although why he just didn't come out and reveal that info, I don't know; his essay is not solely about this title). It didn't take long to confirm my suspicions: the quote comes from Michiro Kakutani's column, published Sept. 5, 2011, one of two (!) pieces on TAOF by the Times. The other, by Gregroy Cowles, appeared four days later.
… it zooms immediately into the pantheon of classics, alongside “The Natural” by Bernard Malamud and “The Southpaw” by Mark Harris — but it’s also a magical, melancholy story about friendship and coming of age that marks the debut of an immensely talented writer.
As a first-time author who would LOVE to see his book reviewed in the Times, I take extra umbrage when the newspaper runs two reviews of the same work, as it did for The Art of Fielding, to which Gasda refers above (“… it zooms immediately into the pantheon of classics, alongside “The Natural” by Bernard Malamud and “The Southpaw” by Mark Harris”) without actually mentioning the title.
At the risk of sounding “sour grapesy,” my mind harkens back to the days of radio payola, when records labels influenced radio stations to give their songs extra play, resulting in extra sales. I’m sure that’s not the case with publishers and publicists pushing their books and authors (no lawsuits, please), but I’d be curious to see the research on what a listing on the Times’ best-seller list means in terms of sales.