Get this: apparently, being a New York Times-bestselling author of only occasionally tropey chicklit (but, to be fair, sometimes really awesome fantastical lit-fic) means that you get to act like an utter jerk on the interwebs!
When Boston Globe critic Roberta Silman dared to say things about Alice Hoffman's new book, The Story Sisters, such as "this new novel lacks the spark of the earlier work" or "Admittedly, there are some wonderful passages as the book winds to a close" or other, um, burns and, uh, digs?, on par with those, Hoffman did what any self-respecting author angry at her book's review would do: She turned to Twitter to extract vengeance on the reviewer.
In a series of 20-some-odd tweets, covered in all their stand-alone glory on Gawker, Hoffman became more and more unhinged, finally posting personal contact info for the reviewer at the Globe, and encouraging folks to contact said reviewer to tell her what they "think of snarky critics."
Snarky critics, it must be said, who include statements in their reviews such as ..."one of my favorite books is her Illumination Night, which amply displays her gifts of precise prose and the ability to create sympathetic characters."
Alice Hoffman's Twitter account is now closed, and the author ran an apology, one that reeks of having been forced out of her by her publicist after said publicist had three very, very panicked mid-day martinis and a quick tutorial on "how to use twitter" from the downstairs intern. In the New York Times today:
"I feel this whole situation has been blown completely out of proportion...I'm sorry if I offended anyone."
In terms of apologies, that ranks just above "yeah whatever" on the sincerity scale. It's times like this, one wishes famous well-to-do novelists had the poise and precision of rappers, so that Hoffman's response could've been something wittier, akin to "don't hate the playa, hate the game." After posting personal contact information for a reporter on Twitter and encouraging her thousands of followers to send notes of hate? Yeah, "sorry if I offended anyone" in a form letter to the Times doesn't cut it.
Regardless, Alice Hoffman's Twitter behavior's more than unfortunate and regrettable it's further fodder for big publishers, already scared of the uncontrollable nature of social networking, to shy further and further away from technology and online tools that they don't want to come to terms with. There are a host of fantastic authors who use Twitter for good, to connect with their readers in humanizing and wonderful ways: Last Night In Montreal author Emily Mandel (@emilymandel), for example; The Kept Man author Jami Attenberg (@jamiattenberg); and Pulitzer finalist Luis Urrea (@urrealism), as well as scores more.
In fact, the majority of authors who actually make it past their first week on Twitter tend to harness the tool which is what it is to interact positively with the world at large. Hoffman shutting down her Twitter account is not only an insult to them, but it's indicative, also, of publishing's black/white, all/nothing mindset to new media, and actually only serves to make her look worse to those in the book world (publicists, agents, smart indie publishers, and other authors) who are on Twitter, and who are, at this very moment, calling for her to do something authentic. Something other than write another damn book about fairies.
As for me? I'm going to cash in on this and get my 10 minutes of internet fame: I'm putting a blonde wig on and uploading a video of myself crying "LEAVE HOFFMAN ALONE! LEAVE HER ALONE!" to youtube.
(Photo by Deborah Feingold)
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