Alain de Botton has a new book out, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, and I look forward to reading it. Caleb Crain didn’t much like it, and said as much in his New York Times review. Alain in turn did not much like Caleb’s review, and said so in no uncertain terms in a comment he left on the reviewer’s blog.
Caleb, you make it sound on your blog that your review is somehow a sane and fair assessment. In my eyes, and all those who have read it with anything like impartiality, it is a review driven by an almost manic desire to bad-mouth and perversely depreciate anything of value. The accusations you level at me are simply extraordinary. I genuinely hope that you will find yourself on the receiving end of such a daft review some time very soon – so that you can grow up and start to take some responsibility for your work as a reviewer. You have now killed my book in the United States, nothing short of that. So that’s two years of work down the drain in one miserable 900 word review. You present yourself as ‘nice’ in this blog (so much talk about your boyfriend, the dog etc). It’s only fair for your readers (nice people like Joe Linker and trusting souls like PAB) to get a whiff that the truth may be more complex. I will hate you till the day I die and wish you nothing but ill will in every career move you make. I will be watching with interest and schadenfreude.
Posted by: Alain de Botton | Monday, 29 June 2009 at 01:52 PM
It’s hard to believe this is the same softly spoken Alain who has over the years provided me with psychological nourishment via his philosophical musings, but apparently it is (confirmed here). I suspect he forgot to take a deep breath and count to ten before posting his response– although I have to admit I admire his frankness (and imagine quite a few writers have felt exactly the same way after receiving a bad review).