You Do Not Want PJ O'Rourke to Review Your Book

In the Sunday NY Times Book Review, the conservative satirist PJ O'Rourke reviews Taylor Clark's Starbucked, an investigative and sociological look at the rise of America's most prominent coffee chain.

For Clark (a fellow Dartmouth grad) and contributor to an Oregon alternative weekly, a review at the NY Times is the much hoped for catalyst to gain attention and acclaim for his first book. Unfortunately, O'Rourke has other ideas. In the hands of the skilled satirist, the review itself emerges as much better than the book and O'Rourke lets you know it.

Back in June, I wrote about the editorial process in choosing reviews at the NY Times. In this case, Clark ends up on the losing side of both random and systematic bias.

The full review is a must read and will be full of at least a half dozen "laugh out louds," but for a taste, consider below how O'Rourke ends the essay:

I never came to like "Starbucked." But I grew very fond of its writer. Most books about social and business phenomena give the reader something to think about. This book gave the author something to think about. Reading "Starbucked" produced an odd reversal of roles and left me, at least, feeling less like a student of the subject than a teacher. Not that I mean to instruct Clark. But I experienced the pleasure a teacher must feel when he watches a kid with promise outgrowing the vagaries and muddles of immaturity (and the jitters of too many coffee-fueled all-nighters) and coming into his own as a young man of learning, reason and sense.

I lift a cup -- of something stronger than Frappuccino -- to you, Taylor Clark. Now go tackle Microsoft.


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