Ebert wrote more books than any TV personality since Steve Allen — 17 in all. Not only collections of reviews, both good and bad, and critiques of great movies, but humorous film term glossaries and even a novel, Behind the Phantom’s Mask, that was serialized in the Sun-Times. He even wrote a book about rice cookers, The Pot and How to Use It, despite the fact that he could no longer eat. In 2011 his autobiography, Life Itself won rave reviews. “This is the best thing Mr. Ebert has ever written,” Janet Maslin wrote in The New York Times.
Posts Tagged ‘Janet Maslin’
When Janet Maslin reviewed This Bright River by Patrick Somerville recently, the novelist discovered that the critic had misread a crucial and deliberately ambiguous moment in the novel.
Somerville explained the error in an essay for Salon: “I realized that Janet Maslin, who is not only one of the most accomplished critics in the world, but who is also the person who lifted my first novel, The Cradle, out of obscurity with a rave review three years before, had made a simple reading error within the first five pages of my novel. She‘d mixed up two characters. It was really important to not mix up those characters. And she never realized it.”
That could have been the end of the whole sad story, but a New York Times editor contacted Somerville through an email to one of his fictional characters. Read the whole email chain at Salon. The lovely email exchange ended with the newspaper printing a spoiler-free correction in the review.
For the second time in a week, the NY Times has broken an embargo placed on a hotly-anticipated novel. Last night Janet Maslin published her review of “The Lost Symbol” on the site, breaking Random House’s embargo deadline of September 15, 12:01 AM.
In reviewing the novel, the critic somehow managed to evade 24-hour guards and closed-circuit television systems used to protect book’s embargo around the world. Last week the newspaper broke an embargo of Ted Kennedy‘s memoir, prompting Hachette to hire a private detective. On a somewhat related note, this is your last chance to contribute a catchphrase to GalleyCat’s Nickname Dan Brown’s Release Date post.
Here’s a juicy excerpt from the review, which GalleyCat hopes was obtained through a daring Mission Impossible-style midnight raid: “‘The Lost Symbol’ manages to take a twisting, turning route through many such aspects of the occult even as it heads for a final secret that is surprising for a strange reason: It’s unsurprising.”
For some reason there’s been a boatload of books-related coverage at the New York Times, including:
- Dana Bowen‘s trend piece on the relationship between books and farming
- Joyce Wadler taking a peek inside Susanna Moore‘s home
Clearly, Janet Maslin isn’t terribly au courant with the publishing industry. Granted, reading all those books for review is enough to eat up anyone’s time, but I can’t help but be a touch embarrassed for her – or perhaps more accurately, her editor at the daily arts section – for assigning her the obligatory, now very much stale-dated “look at all those people ripping off Dan Brown!” trend piece. Julia Navarro, Steve Berry, Matthew Pearl, David Stone, William Dietrich, Val McDermid, Guilio Leoni and Michael Palmer are many of the authors namechecked in the piece, and all will (and should) be grateful for Maslin’s attention, but a quick check at the last 6 months or so of Publishers Marketplace’s deal database reveals the truth: nobody’s buying this stuff anymore.
Which makes Maslin’s assertion that THE SOLOMON KEY is “hotly anticipated.” Okay, I suppose it is for the millions of readers who devoured THE DA VINCI CODE, but if anything, it’s the inevitable backlash (and equally inevitable poorer sales, because TDVC set up expectations that cannot possibly be met) that causes anticipation among slightly crabby prognosticators like me.
Both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times pay tribute to Sidney Sheldon, the bestselling popular fiction writer who died earlier this week. “Sartre and star fever, side by side: this was Sheldon at his risible but lovable high-low best. He was both literate and lurid, and he made that combination hard to resist,” marvels Janet Maslin. And as for his penchant for self-promotion, “the first, unavoidable view is that Sheldon became an inveterate show-off, seduced by the trappings of wealth and power. The second and kinder one: that he had the warmth of one of his own characters. The party was glamorous, and he wanted his fans to know about it. He did not want their noses pressed to the glass. He wanted them invited in.”
Jonathan Kirsch‘s tribute recognizes that Sheldon’s potboilers aren’t likely to be read 100 years from now, but that wasn’t the author’s aim, anyway, and there’s one way he’ll “live forever”:
Dan Brown may have broken Sheldon’s old record of keeping a book on a bestseller list for 53 weeks, but Brown certainly owes a debt to the man who gave the world so much of what critics have called “good junk reading.” Stripped of their faux history and dubious theology, Brown’s page-turners are rendered in precisely the same kind of dialogue-driven narrative and urgent, one-sentence paragraphs, and ornamented with the same kind of exotic locales and unlikely characters, that can be found in any of Sheldon’s novels.