Reader Letters

Al Qaeda Could Not Be Bothered

Dale Peck’s “judging” of McEwan’s and Smith’s novels shows that this self-proclaimed “most-hated man in publishing,” while lacking any critical acumen, possesses an unmatched ego. “Contemporary fiction’s nothing more than an enabler of certain bourgeois illusions” …”Social compact is spiritual and species suicide”…”literary
novel…irrelevant mea culpas”

This from a man who makes a living from publishing? Who says “five pages in the Times magazine were very important” to his career, who will ensure he gets publicity, even though “it became clear to me when I sat down with James Atlas that his article was not about anything.” His pretentious babble is most certainly not about anything, other than self-aggrandizement. He clearly had not read either book he is supposed to be judging and lacks the appropriate critical apparatus to do so. His own work is not of the same stature as either of these works, so he issues pronouncements about joining al Qaeda. Al Qaeda could not be bothered supplying him with explosives for a suicide mission, seeing him for the poseur he is. To quote him again, in another context, “It’s all sadly reactionary and, frankly, a little pathetic.”

(The quoted passages that are not from Peck’s “judging” are all from Robert Birnbaum’s interview with him, published in The Morning News in December 2003.)

Andrew Stancek

Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. He is the author of three books, including his latest novel The Last Kid Left (NPR’s Best Books of the Year). His nonfiction appears in a variety of magazines, mostly GQ. More information can be found at More by Rosecrans Baldwin

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