No one really cares about this, but the editor of the Detroit Free Press wrote a column about her decision to kill the pan of Mitch Albom’s new novel. Wrote Carole Leigh Hutton:
… A negative review feels wrong, if not hypocritical. After all, we put this guy’s writing in the paper all the time, often on the front page. We obviously think he’s talented. And we heavily promote our association with him because we know how popular he is with so many of our readers. Somehow, using him to sell newspapers one day and publishing something hurtful about him the next felt dishonest and hypocritical.
Uh, no. Is this so hard? A bad review of a book does not say the writer is a bad person. It says he wrote a lousy book. Further, writers may enjoy great success and accomplishment in one area and fail in the next. How many lousy newspaper columns by great novelists have you read? I’m an OK columnist, but, I’m learning, a pretty poor screenwriter. Just because the Freep treasures Albom as a sportswriter does not mean he’s automatically a great novelist. Albom’s novel, currently being savaged by braver souls on Amazon, will stand or fall on its own merits, and is pretty review-proof anyway. It’s chicken soup for the easily pleased reader’s soul.
Where I fell short as the executive editor of this newspaper was in failing to get out in front of the question before it became a problem. I knew the book was coming out, and I failed to ask editors what our coverage plans were.
I guess that puff piece that appeared a week or so ahead of publication, detailing how eager booksellers were to get their hands on it, must have come as a surprise, then.