Friday, September 15, 2006

Being the Bigger man

Ryan Bigge takes some time out from whatever new and cool things he's into this week to twit me for fucking up the title of Trevor Cole's new novel:

"I’ve been reviewing books for a few years now, but I’d hesitate to call myself an expert. Given my focus on non-fiction and contemporary fiction, it’s not as if I have the breadth and experience to be, oh, say, the review editor of Quill & Quire. I mean, you’d really have to know your stuff to be the review editor of the Canadian book industry trade magazine.

So, like I said, I’m no expert. But it strikes me that if you decide to review a book, you might want to take the time to make sure you spell the title correctly. In today’s Sunday Star, Nathan Whitlock takes a crack at The Fearsome Particles. Only problem is that he calls the book The Elementary Particles."

(I could make a small objection here, that the problem wasn't that I spelled the title incorrectly, but rather gave it the wrong fucking title entirely, but never mind, he's got me, fair and square.)

He does end up forgiving me:

"All I know is that we're all human, and we all make mistakes. Even Nathan Whitlock."

Thanks, Ryan. And I hereby forgive you for embarrassing yourself so completely with that Leah McLaren review, which I have come to think of as an excellent example of the perils of hunting fish in a barrel without a bullet in the chamber.

Speaking of Trevor Cole, I was introduced to the man himself last night at a launch and offered again my apologies (I had already emailed some to his publicist and asked that they be passed on to him). I'm guessing he wasn't delighted by my review – even beyond the title fuckup – but he was completely gracious about the whole thing. At least while I was within earshot.


ognir.rrats said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ognir.rrats said...

An obvious case of the shit calling the fart smelly.

What is worse: Whitlock's (and his editor's) typo, or Bigge putting the Star's books section in a conflict of interest by submitting a revenge review of Leah McLaren's novel?

ognir.rrats said...

p.s. Sorry to call you a fart, Nathan.

ognir.rrats said...

p.p.s. I've been trying to figure out what business it is of Bigge's to kick a man when he's down, and I just remembered that Quillblog (before Whitlock's tenure) documented the Bigge/McLaren slap fight. Has Bigge's world become so small?

nathan said...

It may be because of the potshots I took at Douglas Coupland on this blog. If I remember Bigge's review of jPod, that book was brilliant because it mentioned cellphones or the Internet, or something like that.

Who knows.

melanieifany said...

jPod, Mclaren? Huh?! I think this has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that you made a huge gaffe and you were called on it. I was irritated by the error when I read the Star and was planning to write a formal letter to the editor about it myself, before Bigge's posting beat me to it. But my question was why didn't the copyeditors catch it?

Joe Clark said...

Now, you are who, again?

ognir.rrats said...

Shades of Lee Siegel.

nathan said...

Just so we're clear, I've got no problem with being called on a gaffe (I prefer "fuckup," but there you go), and I was quick to call myself out for this one. Just knowing someone read one of my reviews closely enough to even have a reaction is strangely flattering.

However, Ryan took the opportunity to question my competence as a reviewer and as an editor. Also fine, in the "all's fair in love and book reviewing" sense, but still baffling, especially given Ryan's own recent scrape with the reviewing police.

ognir.rrats said...

Bigge is in no position to point fingers. Whitlock and Dan Smith, the Star's books editor, were guilty of nothing more than an editorial oversight. Bigge, on the other hand, engaged in a vindictive, self-serving and secretive breach of journalistic ethics, putting the Star in a conflict of interest and requiring Smith to print a 500-word apology. (Space that could have been used for a book review.)

Bigge's name should be journalistic mud. Instead, he lands a cushy job teaching journalism at UofT. (See his blog for details.)