Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Jonah Goldberg, Lumbering Dinosaur

The Hon. Dr. St. Rev. Bradley S. Rocket, Esq, PhD, MD (George Soros Professor of Anthropology at Sadly No! University) discusses the Proterozoic Era throwback known as Jonah Goldberg.

For about three million years (give or take thirty-two months), Neoconderthal Goldberg has been working on his incisive new book, Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton, which has been available for pre-order on Amazon.com since before the Internet was invented. Both Professor Rocket and Slate's Timothy Noah have reviewed the book based solely on the description posted on Amazon, as well as the book's title, which itself posits the Euclidean equation "Liberal = Fascist = Mussolini = Hillary." When (and if) finished, the book will be a revisionist history, one supposes.

(News flash: A rough draft, apparently written on either papyrus or sheeting made from used condoms, has been unearthed. Archaeologists and Jonah's editors are hoping to locate a Rosetta Stone to translate the work into English. )

Professor Rocket, however, follows his post with a retraction of sorts:
Ah, it seems that Jonah has disavowed the Amazon.com description. Mea culpa.

And it's true. Here's what Jurassic Jonah himself says:

It isn't what the Amazon description says or what the Economist claims it is

Now, a biblical scholar might wonder, where exactly where did this Amazon Apocrypha come from? Here, word for word, is the original source--the Web site of Jonah's publisher, Doubleday, a division of Random House.

The bottom line: Jonah is full of petrified crap.

I've been working for book publishers for 25 years. (Full disclosure: I used to work for a division of the corporation that owns Random House--and I know how things work there.) That copy most certainly must have been written by his editor, based probably on Jonah's original proposal. If Jonah is upset by the "Amazon description" provided by his publisher (and still on the publisher's Web site), he could--with one phone call or an angry e-mail to his shameless editor, Adam Bellow (yes, he's related)--have it revised in both locations in a matter of days.

I have personally done exactly that on many, many occasions, either at the request of authors or because a final manuscript didn't match a proposal. Publishers are constantly updating their own Web sites; the publication date for Jonah's book, for example, has been recently revised. (Hell, we even changed a single word on an Amazon description for a title because it was technically inaccurate.)

So there seem to be only two possibilities here: either the description is pretty much as the Jonah represented the book to the publisher, or Jonah doesn't care that his own publisher is misrepresenting the book.

If Wishes Were Horses (Jonah Goldberg Remix)
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