|Adam Gopnik | McGill University Press|
Initiating incident: James Wolcott (left), "the reigning monarch of the literary put-down," delivers a maiming review of "Through the Children's Gate," a collection of Gopnik's essays about New York City.
"Finally," caws Gawker. "The Adam Gopnik takedown we've all been waiting for."
Here are Gopnik's primary flaws, in Wolcott's view. He:
- was put on this earth to annoy;
- is a careerist with delicate antennae who wants to be encouraged, petted, praised, promoted, and congratulated;
- is forever soliciting the reader's approval with an array of cloying ploys that become gimmicky and self-conscious;
- and his friends are yuppie triumphalists who take pride and pleasure in their exalted taste buds and their little geniuses reflecting flatteringly on their own achievements.
|One of the few available photographs of James Wolcott|
the Internet coughs up. Undated, it appears in
Okay, fine: fratricide among the New York literati can't be new. But the shocking part was the response of bloggers, the ostensible fans: Yeah, he had it coming.
Hate, always quick to respond, finds one lonely dad sticking up for Gopnik. The others? Some avert their eyes. Most lap it up.
Emdashes: "Wolcott makes an omelette with some familiar eggs."It all seems a touch cruel to me. I haven't read "Children's Gate," but I loved one of its pieces that ended up in the magazine, "Death of a Goldfish," Gopnik's rumination on meaning and existence. Wolcott claims to hear tinned laughter behind this, the essay's opening passage.
Penguins: "This is hilarious."
The Elegant Variation: "Lord, James Wolcott entertains us."
Biffles: "Gopnik filters the entire world through his upper-middle-class colored preciousness."
Jewcy: "Why is there a market for Gopnik's extravagant whimsicality?"
Gall and Gumption: "Gopnik manages somehow to distill experience down to pure vanity."
"When our five-year-old daughter Olivia's goldfish, Bluie, died the other week, we were confronted with a crisis larger, or at least more intricate, than is entirely usual upon the death of a pet. Bluie's life and his passing came to involve so many larger elements—including the problem of consciousness and the plotline of Hitchcock's Vertigo—that it left us all bleary-eyed and a little shaken.More to come on this. Did he really have it coming?
"Let's try this," Martha said. "Let's tell her that, though Bluie did die, this Bluie [a replacement fish, a ringer for the original] is kind of Bluie reborn.
"I thought she might have something, and in the next fifteen minutes, we did a quick, instinctive tour of the world's religions. We made up a risen-from-the-grave Christian story: the Passion of the Bluie. We considered a Buddhist story: Bluie goes round and round. We even played with a Jewish story: Bluie couldn't be kept alive by the doctors, but what a lovely bowl he left for his family!"