When Jennifer Weiner reads from her new novel, Certain Girls, tonight at the Lincoln Center Barnes & Noble, she’ll have a number of fans among the tri-state area’s literary community in the audience—but even if Jane Smiley were in the neighborhood, you’d probably lose money betting she’d show up. In today’s Philadelphia Inquirer (Weiner’s hometown paper, and her former place of employment), Smiley spreads a thousand acres of disdain on “about the pinkest book you can imagine.” Even the nice things Smiley has to say about Weiner’s writing morph into underminer jabs, like the assertion that “she’s got the intelligence and the ambition to address larger questions than the psychological ups and downs of her nice Jewish characters,” but “for whatever reason… she doesn’t dare.” My favorite bit: When Smiley points to what she believes is a flaw in the novel’s structure, then says, “If she had asked me…,” then offers what she thinks is a “more daring and intriguing way” to tell the story. That’s a pretty big if, that is.
Also, Smiley really, really hates all the pink in the cover and the end papers. Which, for Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, is a prime example of Smiley “wringing a cultural dishrag that went dry two decades ago.”