So I’m looking at my advance copy of this weekend’s New York Times Book Review, and I don’t get more than a few pages in before wondering—how did an ad for Jonathan Franzen’s The Discomfort Zone wind up next to the letters (from Tom Bissell and Adam Langer, no less) defending Franzen against Daniel Mendelsohn’s full frontal assault (see below)? I’d always thought that, even with the wall between editorial and ad sales, somebody in layout might keep an eye out for this sort of thing, but it appears I’ve been wrong. “We don’t see any ads until we close,” NYTBR editor Sam Tanenhaus confirmed in a quick email, adding the perspective that “letters are neutral space, unlike reviews.”
So it really is just one of those things that unfortunately happen sometimes…but with any luck, it won’t derail too many readers’ experience of what otherwise appears to be a very interesting issue, with pieces by many of their top-shelf contributors (Schillinger! Harrison! Alford! And the Sterns!), which I’m looking forward to delving into in more detail over the weekend.