NOT OUR KIND OF SCUMMY LITTLE BOOK, MUFFY
If the New York Times wants to try to kill "scummy little books" with vicious pre-publication pans, why stop with Nicholson Baker's Checkpoint? Also hitting stores this week is In Defense of Internment: The Case for Racial Profiling in World War II and the War on Terror by Michelle Malkin. Malkin's doing a media blitz, so it won't be a surprise if the book becomes a bestseller.
And what about the Swift boat book? Hell, it only reached #1 at Amazon and became a multi-day story in the press (Nightline tonight); right-wingers and right-wing watchers know that this attack on Kerry's integrity has been coming for months. The Swifties' book hits stores next week; I've seen the table of contents of next week's Book Review and it's nowhere to be found, even though this one absolutely will hit the bestseller list and affect the election.
The mandarins still don't get it. They don't know anyone who reads books like this, so they think the books don't matter. Right-wing attack books still don't get reviewed in the "quality" papers; they may sell hundreds of thousands of copies and be dishonest from cover to cover, but you'd never know that from reading the Times.
By contrast, Checkpoint was written by a guy whose novels are considered solidly literary (even the sexy one that sold a lot of copies); besides the fiction, he's written nonfiction books about John Updike and book preservation in libraries. Checkpoint, in other words, may be a "scummy little book," but it's the right kind of scummy little book.