Fighting Words When Writers Attack on Twitter: Bret Easton Ellis, Salman Rushdie and More
‘American Psycho’ author Bret Easton Ellis unleashed a string of nasty tweets on the late David Foster Wallace, and it’s not the first aggressive literary assault on Twitter. Sarah Stodola has a survey of similar attacks.
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Writers aren’t necessarily known for their level heads—notoriously insecure and simultaneously narcissistic, it’s no surprise that they have a hard time stomaching criticism or keeping their envy over another writer’s success in check. And in this age of instant transmission of information, not even their publicists can keep them from ranting about it when they feel like it.
The phenomenon was on full display as Bret Easton Ellis
went ballistic on the legacy of fellow author David Foster Wallace with an onslaught of nasty tweets. This might be the most sustained, aggressive literary assault Twitter has seen in its six years, but it certainly isn’t the first. Here are seven infamous examples of writers who took to Twitter to hastily air their grievances. Bret Easton Ellis Attacks David Foster Wallace
string of insults started the early morning of Sept. 6, 2012, prompted by Ellis’s reading of D.T. Max’s new biography of Wallace, . He called the book’s “solemnity of the David Foster Wallace myth on a purely literary level borderline sickening.” They piled up throughout the day and he included anyone who thinks Wallace a genius in the “Literary Doucebag-Fools Pantheon [sic].” He called those that read him “fools.” He calls Wallace himself “the most tedious, overrated, tortured, pretentious writer of my generation.” He later calls him a “fraud.” Most recently, he added “insufferable” to the list of insults. Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen Exchange Insults
Just days after Rushdie joined Twitter last fall, the
Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen, who like Rushdie has been the victim of threats from Islamic fundamentalists, tweeted: “Salman Rushdie is begging everyone to follow him on Twitter. He’ll feel embarrassed if he doesn’t get a million followers.” And then, “Be aware of Salman Rushdie! He wants to get girls in his ‘whipped cream range.’” A few hours later, Rushdie’s first retort went out: “Somewhere in the distance I hear the envious miaow of #Taslima-Nasreen being catty about me. Tut, tut, Taslima. #Shame #Lajja.” Vince Bucci / Getty Images Alice Hoffman Takes On a Reviewer
In 2009 the
Boston Globe published Roberta Silman’s review of Hoffman’s novel The Story Sisters. Hoffman took the critique badly. Her first tweet on the subject began with “Roberta Silman in the Boston Globe is a moron.” A later one included the line “Now any idiot can be a critic.” It didn’t take long for Hoffman to issue a formal apology and close down her Twitter account. ‘Girls’ Writer Lesley Arfin Makes a Bad ‘Precious’ Joke
The HBO show
Girls debuted last April, prompting a number of critics to comment on the lack of diversity in its cast. Arfin, one of the show’s writers and the author of Dear Diary, responded with the following tweet: “What really bothered me most about Precious was that there was no representation of ME.” The tweet went viral, as did the furor over its alleged subtle racism, prompting Arfin to tweet a perplexing apology, which she soon took down. According to her website and her Twitter, she’s still working on Girls, and still tweeting.
George R.R. Martin Inspires the Ire of Damon Lindelof
Martin, a devoted fan of the television show
Lost, expressed his disappointment in the finale during an interview with . The New Yorker Lindelof, a co-creator and writer on the show, responded by declaring war, with this tweet: “George? You’ve got yourself a feud motherfucker … Winter IS coming, bitch!” After several more spirited tweets, Lindelof admitted to Entertainment Weekly that, given Martin didn’t have a Twitter account, “I’m not entirely even sure that George Martin knows that he’s in a feud.”
Guy Adams Kicked Off Twitter
Like a lot of viewers, the London
Independent’s Guy Adams wasn’t too pleased with NBC’s Olympics coverage. He took his criticisms a step too far, though, when he tweeted NBC executive Gary Zenkel’s confidential email address and urged readers to complain to him directly. The following day, when he tried to log on to his Twitter, he found that the company had suspended it. It was reinstated the next day.
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