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Why David Blum Should Get Out More

The snark fairy very much wants to point out how difficult it may be to take seriously the opinion of someone who so haplessly ran the Village Voice into the ground, but there’s plenty of evidence showing just the logic flaws in David Blum‘s New York Sun opinion piece about the fortunes of Joshua Ferris‘s debut novel THEN WE CAME TO THE END truly is.

First is Blum’s question as to why the book “did not become a New York Times bestseller”: Sure, it didn’t appear on the print list, but came very close – hitting #19 on the April 18th extended list. Second, Blum’s excursion into the Lincoln Square Barnes & Noble indicates he hasn’t been outside his neighborhood radius in a while. “What if bookstores created sections devoted to that week’s best-reviewed books,” he asks? I see that all the time in more regional superstores, those in Canada and – oh yeah! the independents. And what of “posted positive reviews alongside the books themselves?” That’s why the shelftalker was invented, Mr. Blum.

Then there’s the comparison to Kurt Andersen’s HEYDAY – a second novel from a longtime journalist with plenty of platform – which only makes sense from a timing standpoint and even then is quite the reach. If Blum’s memory allowed him to go back to when Marisha Pessl‘s SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS had NYTBR cover treatment – and a stint on the bestseller list as high as #6 – then perhaps the piece might have carried more weight. Or more recently, Jon Clinch’s debut novel FINN, which had even more review love all over newspapers and didn’t even make it onto the extended list.

So no wonder Reagan Arthur “got depressed” at Blum’s questioning when the book did fairly well and turned a profit – and more importantly, probably earned out long before publication because buying world rights yielded foreign sales fruit.

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