Tibor Fische, Voyage to the End of the Room

It’s not a trend we favor, but there’s a notable tendency these days for authors to turn their swords on each other in the name publicizing themselves. It probably started with that insufferable Jonathan Franzen, whose open sneer at Oprah’s Book Club was largely directed at the authors she chose. Then there’s New Republic critic Dale Peck, who gave up writing his famously acidulous reviews coincidentally right around the time his own new book would have been coming out for critical appraisal. (Not that it gave him a free pass, but the timing was still irritating.) Tibor Fischer got into this act a couple of months ago with a devastatingly vicious attack on Martin Amis; Fischer basically admitted he’d have kept his poison in the inkwell if his own book weren’t about to ship soon. It’s not so much the negativity we mind, but that it’s being done as a PR exercise. It’s a shame, because it spoils our enjoyment of a book we’d otherwise enjoy in all our doe-eyed innocence—a comic novel about world travel in which the heroine never leaves her apartment.