Thank You For Not Reading Your Notes

Over at House of Mirth, James Marcus offers a recent interview with Dubravka Ugresic, who’s been getting some very nice notices in the last few months. I reviewed her essay collection Thank You For Not Reading, as well as her novella + stories Lend Me Your Character. (Her titles always rule.) One of the most interesting parts of Marcus’s interview was this last exchange:

Marcus: One last question, which is actually a confession. In Thank You For Not Reading, you acerbically note that the New York Times Book Review rolled out the red carpet for Ivana Trump when she published a novel: “I wouldn’t have noticed it if Joseph Brodsky hadn’t received in the very same issue an unjustly malicious review of his latest book Watermark. One reviewer vilified Brodsky for his language ‘jammed with metaphors,’ and the other praised Ivana for her analytical intelligence.” Well, I was the guy who wrote the Brodsky review. It wasn’t really that negative!

Ugresic: [Laughs] Well, I didn’t have the review in front of me when I wrote the essay! But even it was not true, that doesn’t matter–it was possible, it was believable. And it gets more believable all the time.

It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t true? Ugh. As someone who writes and talks about her fierce artistic integrity doing battle with a weak world – her commentary “A Culture of Lies” was recently published in Context – that’s a less-than-encouraging insight into her own essay-writing.