Monday, March 26, 2007

Ben Schott Gets Bitch-Slapped By New York Times Book Review

Almanac Guru Denies Plagiarism, Paper Kind Of, Sort Of, Begs To Differ
You can fool all of the editors some of the time, but you can't fool all of the readers.
At least that's what appears to have happened to publishing darling Ben Schott, he of the "Schott's Almanac" and "Schott's Original Miscellany," which have sold millions of copies worldwide.
An editor's note in yesterday's New York Times Book Review noted how several readers had pointed out "similarities" in an essay he wrote for the March 4 Book Review about mistreating books.
Several of the super-literate out there noticed thematic "similarities" to an essay contained in Anne Fadiman's "Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader."
Granted, it wasn't a word-for-word lift, but the opening paragraph of Schott's piece has an eerie familiarity if you know Fadiman's work.
Schott denied he had ever read Fadiman, whose essay was also brought to his attention by a Book Review reader. He blames the similarity on the "coincidental result of the narrowness of the topic."
Talk about a euphemism.
True or not, it was enough to give Book Review editors the heebie-jeebies.
"Had editors been aware of Fadiman's essay, the Book Review would not have published Schott's."
Which presumably means that Schott, who has been doing some freelance work at the Times, is now able to consider assignments from other publications.

1 comment:

Undercover Black Man said...

Hey Steve. Did you used to work at the Diamondback? If so, here's a blast from the past... I'm David Mills. I was an editor there during the David Simon era.

I found your blog while reading reactions to the NYT's two huge corrections from yesterday. I wrote about a lesser Times correction at my blog, Undercover Black Man.

I also enjoyed the Fran Coombs dish you passed along earlier.

I left journalism to write TV drama (as Simon did), but since I started blogging a few months ago, my journalistic impulses have been reawakened. Boy, this is an addictive habit. But it's the most fun I've had writing in years.

Anyways, just wanted to say hello. Take it easy.