Flipping through People Magazine, as I do pretty much every Friday, I came across a short review of Michael Chabon‘s officially bestselling novel THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN’S UNION that was almost uniformly positive. Nothing new, that, even how it pointed out the book explored “intriguing questions about Jewishness.” But then I saw the byline: Kyle Smith. Yes, that Kyle Smith, the one who was purportedly quoted by Page Six that the book depicts “some of his Jewish characters as willing to do anything, including massacring other Jews, in the cause of Zionism.” It might make you think that Page Six, oh, performed the gossip equivalent of alchemy in spinning a controversy out of a good review?
Or perhaps not. When asked about both the Page Six quotes and his review for People, Smith explained it thusly by email this morning: “I simply pointed out the book’s potential for causing controversy; I was thinking particularly that it might annoy ultra-Orthodox Jews, whom Chabon satirizes somewhat mercilessly.” Which is different from his reaction about THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN’S UNION: “I enjoyed the book. I have enjoyed many controversial books.”