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The Reeler Blog

Thomson Wounded in Own Attack on NYT Reviewer

A few weeks back I alerted you to Lawrence Levi's NYT Book Review piece that all but recoils from Nicole Kidman, the new biographical "mash note" by David Thomson. While Levi's experience with the book inspired a sizable sympathy in my heart (and a driving urge to disinfect my imagination of Thomson's seismic hard-on), Thomson himself was driven to the less abstract reaction of hate mail

Lawrence Levi, reviewing my book Nicole Kidman (Sept. 17), declares that it is "inane." I know that authors are expected to turn the other cheek and pass on, but something prevents me this time. I told a friend that I had never read Levi's book -- The Film Snob's Dictionary (did it really take two people to write it?) -- and the friend replied that Levi clearly hadn't read mine either. I can assure you that this author doesn't have it in him to spend two years on a mash note to an actress. I was trying to get at some deeper points about acting, film, power and so on -- but alas, I fell short of Levi's snob standards. So let me share with your weary readers (the Book Review is so often caught between spite and boredom) that The San Francisco Chronicle has just called Nicole Kidman "a book that has guts and brains."

At his blog Looker, Levi asks readers to decide who is right in this little squabble, but I'm far more interested in whether or not the old "San-Francisco-Chronicle-says-my-book-has-guts-and-brains" defense carries any more weight than the "if-you-think-my-book-is-bad-then-you-should-read-my-critic's" defense. Each has its own lobotomized appeal, but I tend to think Thomson's imperviousness to humor and context is the more pitiable condition; it's as though he swung so hard at Levi -- and missed -- that he came all the way around and clotheslined himself. I almost want to buy the poor bastard a drink, if only I could wake him up.

Posted at October 9, 2006 4:56 PM

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