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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Monday, June 11, 2012 1:27 pm
Hostile Questions: Mary Roach
Posted by: Daniel Kraus

Sure, Mary Roach looks like a formidable foe. She got up close and personal with decomposing flesh in Stiff, got intimate with death in Spook, got just plain intimate in Bonk, and then went cosmic, man, with Packing for Mars. But I have an edge: If there’s one thing I know about the nonfiction publishing industry, it’s the ceaseless GLITZ and GLAMOR. I’ll wait until she lifts her glass of Dom Pérignon… and then I strike!

Just who do you think you are?

A friend of mine was a production guy on the set of Nash Bridges. One day Don Johnson walks by one of the carpenters, a big guy named Tiny, and sneers, “What are YOU lookin’ at?” Tiny, without missing a beat and knowing full well he’ll be fired, says, “Third-rate actor with a drinking problem.” I’ll let Tiny answer this one for me: Overpaid hack with the mind of a 12-year-old boy.

Where do you get off?

The stop where no one else gets off, because it’s disgusting and it smells really bad.

What’s the big idea?

Truth! What happened to truth? Lies and lazy thinking are getting the upper hand on critical thought and solid, hard reporting. Ignorance and self-promotion are unseating reason and good. Me no like.

What is your problem, man?

Running out of body parts to write about.

Haven’t you done enough?

Enough to what? Drag the reputation of W.W. Norton and Company all the way down into the gutter? Yes. Embarrass my stepchildren? Yes. Stop global warming? I could maybe do a little more there.

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