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Anonymous Readers Are a Cynical and Suspicious Lot

Anonymous (always anonymous) readers among you persist in believing that Sunday’s New York Times Magazine story on Charles Bock must be the result of an unholy alliance between Daniel Menaker, Katherine Boutin, and Charles McGrath—what one email described with an annoyed tone as “a means for ensuring that Random House has a BIG title, regardless of merit.” Well, what if I told you that, from what I’ve heard from sources more reliable than anonymous resentniks, that conspiracy theory has the chain of events completely wrong? That, in all likelihood, McGrath started out writing about Bock for the arts section of the Times, but found his story expanding to the point where he took it to the magazine instead?

Oh, sure, I can imagine the anonymous response already: “Yeah, but I bet Dan Menaker told him he should write about Bock in the first place.” Maybe, maybe not, but, honestly, so what? Frankly, I’m unconvinced that it matters much; as far as I can tell, this just confirms my theory that many of you view the anonymous tip box as an outlet to vent without being held accountable for your negative attitudes.

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