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I don't know if any of you read Salon.com. There's an interesting exchange going on over there right now. Our story begins with a Salon book critic, Laura Miller, writing a fairly negative review of Caleb Carr's new non-fiction book about the history of terrorism. I've never read Carr's work, but I understand that he's a military historian best known for historical fiction.

Anyway, Carr wrote a response to the review that can only be called an object lesson in how not to respond to bad press. He called Miller a "bitchy wise-ass" and suggested she was only qualified to write about bad women's fiction. His tirade was complete with lots of CAPITAL LETTERS just in case it wasn't clear that he was really, really, angry.

After a collection of angry reader responses, Carr wrote again. Not to apologize; in fact he stands by his sentiments about Miller and "Sex and the City." (what that show has to do with the history of terrorism I'm not sure.) But he does hope that women readers won't judge him on a "momentary intemperance," bless our addled heads. Miller, showing far more sense than Carr, has remained silent since publication of her review.

Meanwhile, Carr's publisher Random House must be rubbing their hands together with glee. A controversy like this has to be good for sales. They told the AP that they were about to sell out of a first printing of 70,000. If a very public, very petulant tantrum can get you sales of 70,000, authors will be lining up to throw them!

I must say this is the most entertaining thing I've read in Salon for a long time. And the timing couldn't be better. This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately: how will I deal with the inevitable bad reviews. Now I can thank Mr. Carr for showing me the way not to behave. I'll stay mindful of the phrase WWCCD -- "what would Caleb Carr do" -- and be sure to do the opposite. As one Salon reader said, it's hard to imagine a clearer demonstration of why silence is the best response to a bad review.

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This page contains a single entry by Sarah published on February 13, 2002 9:56 AM.

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