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Steve Almond and Gawker in a Slapping Match

steve_almond.jpgSteve Almond is using the Huffington Post to air his current grievance instead of waiting for the publication of his next book. Gawker, a popular New York literature gossip and opinion blog, has written some favorable and some unfavorable items about Almond. In return, Almond chooses to compare Gawker readers to aggrieved Republican voters.

“It’s driven by the same compulsion as the GOP: the need to shame others, rather than facing up to your own shame.” and “Gawker readers remind me of all those aggrieved citizens who continue to fall for the GOP’s hate campaigns — and to vote against their own economic interests.”

Given Almond’s renowned wit and writing, I am just a little disappointed at his flailing about at the Huffington Post and attributing the downfall of morality in the US to the New York literati’s addiction to Gawker and the country’s “culture of grievance.”

“If this country ever hopes to rouse itself from the moral torpor marked by the Bush years, we are going to have to end our addiction to Gawking, and face up to the common crises of state.”

I’m pretty sure that everything that Almond says about Gawker could be said about his own work, particularly the essay in which he refers to Oprah as the “Wal-Mart of Hope”. Gawker responded by accusing Almond of taking things out of context. Everyone wants a piece of Gawker these days, given its rise in prominence. I read the Vanessa Grigoriadis piece but was struck by the vitriol she expended. In reference to the owner of Gawker Media, Grigoriadis writes:

The moment that he told me that he would not conduct an official interview with me, and I said I'd continue reporting without him, was perhaps the only one where I've seen him express emotion. For a split second, he was furious. His eyes flicked back and forth over mine like a metronome, searching for some clue to what I was planning, what angle I might be playing, and he spat out his denial with the intensity of a losing tennis player.

What struck me the most, however, was the pay these bloggers at some of my favorite sites like Gizmodo were being paid: $12 per post with an average of 12 posts per day. Now that’s Gawk-worthy.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

One Comment

  1. Robin
    Oct 18, 2007 @ 13:28:35

    Thanks to RfP’s review of Almond’s Heavy Metal, I picked up and am reading Not That You Asked Me, which contains that long (and often hysterical, IMO) rant on Oprah and her book club. And I absolutely agree that Almond is beset by the very same struggles that lead him to attack Gawker. I mean, here’s a guy who idolizes Kurt Vonnegut, who believes passionately in writing as a moral endeavor, and who is savagely critical of consumer culture, but who is also a TV addict, a candy addict, a baseball addict, and who works the media masterfully in bringing attention to him and his work (he even has a blog about his infant daughter). Sometimes his prose soars, and sometimes it scratches like those proverbial nails on a chalkboard, and it’s really tough for him not to caught caught in the double back from his own condemning postures. But at the same time, he seems to have an almost painful sense of self-awareness, too, and I have no doubt that he’s anticipated almost every criticism someone could have of him, and likely said it to himself first. And more often than not — for me, at least — that self-consciousness saves him from condemnation for his hypocrisy. In a way, he becomes a very visceral example of why we’re all hypocrites at various moments, of why no one can be perfectly consistent and coherent in our beliefs and opinions. Which may be why he has this whole love/hate thing going with other bloggers and various lit-types (see this piece from Salon for a great example of this dynamic).

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