September 1st, 2010 / 3:35 pm
Snippets

Which writer is the biggest asshole you’ve witnessed personally?

154 Comments

  1. Jeff

      VS Naipaul

  2. damon

      … looking forward to this invitation.

  3. J

      Mary Gaitskill

  4. Daniel Romo

      Taylor Mali (if you count a spoken word author as a writer)

  5. Walt

      T.C. Boyle. Had dinner with him in 04. He is totally and completely up his own ass and could give seven shits about anyone and anything that doesn’t have to do with T.C. Boyle.

  6. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      Why?

  7. amoo

      really? do tell.

  8. Ryan Shea

      really? saw her read in MA, she was nice, engaged the audience, addressed questions/reactions well.

  9. daniel bailey

      then answer the question, which writer has the biggest asshole you’ve witnessed personally.

  10. Ani Smith

      is it mean week?

  11. jackie corley

      sherman alexie

      sorry to say it. he was super douchey when i met him at book expo a few years back.

  12. Daniel Romo

      What was on the menu?

  13. goner

      Not David Eggers. That man was very nice in person.

  14. Ben Spivey

      har har

  15. Laura

      We’re all assholes, but personally I think my old grad school teacher qualifies. He would have called it “tough love.” I will not give his name.

  16. a writer

      junot diaz is the most condescending writer i’ve ever met.

  17. Salvatore Pane
  18. Brian

      Sherman Alexie’s the kind of asshole I like, though. He’s cantankerous. I’ve seen him read a few times and I think he’s very funny and engaging.

  19. L.

      The writer who came off like the biggest asshole after seeing them speak was Jonathan Safran Foer (big shock there, right?)

  20. davidpeak

      i did a reading with someone once who did the following things: 1) when i met him/her, they pretended to cock an imaginary shotgun, then pretended to blow their head off. 2) they walked out in the middle of my reading and slammed the door.

      the first one was pretty funny. the second one just made me feel bad.

  21. Rachel F

      Not sure if he counts as a writer, but Bill Cosby hit me.

  22. geospiza finch

      What did you do to deserve that?

  23. JimR

      A writer I’d invited to Vermin on the Mount showed up late, eyed the room, and left without saying anything because the crowd wasn’t big enough.

  24. Rachel F

      Expected him to sign books while eating croissants that were not from the right bakery.

  25. Adam

      James Joyce towel-whipped me with his velvet cape.

  26. Dreezer

      Ha! I know a guy who works at a hotel where Bill Cosby stayed. He specified a certain type of danish and a certain size drink from Starbucks — the guy went all over town to find this stuff. Not being a Starbucks aficionado, my pal forgot the size of the coffee drink and just got him the biggest. Bill objected, cuz he said the drink doesn’t taste the same in a different size cup. I guess when you’re rich you can have people jump thru hoops to get you just exactly what you want.

  27. Adam

      But Allan Gurganus was fucking nice.

  28. Adam
  29. Adam

      Are we supposed to guess? Wally Lamb.

  30. c2k
  31. damon

      damn… how is he not embarassed by that?

  32. Jimmy Chen

      my dad.

      he writes emails.

  33. The Answer

      Geoffrey Wolffe is a complete asshole to me over email as an undergrad

  34. The Answer

      (was) — maybe he had a point

  35. ryan

      I wouldn’t call him an asshole—I don’t think he’s actually mean—but he is something of a blowhard.

  36. Matthew Simmons

      You promised me a full house.

  37. ryan

      Should add that I’m kinda fond of blowhards.

  38. damon

      ha!

  39. Walt

      Don’t be an asshole and haters won’t hate.

  40. Walt

      You know who was real cool? David Foster Wallace. Same with James Ellroy.

      Another asshole: Dick Hebdige. He was the dean of the writing program I graduated from and his contempt for the students was pretty palpable even through his sneery British facade.

  41. jackie corley

      i like a good blowhard but that wasn’t my one on one experience or problem with his douchiness.

      it was this bizarre ‘i’m going to pretend you’re not a human or something one foot away from me as i sign your book’ thing. (i was the only person in line at the signing table at the time.)

      it wasn’t that it was a blow-off (which wouldn’t have been a big deal). it was this ‘i’m going to pretend there’s no matter in front of me making sound at me’ type of thing.

      i’ve just never had that kind of interaction with another person before. it was really, really weird…

  42. Walt

      Actually, a ‘sneery facade’ would indicate contempt from the get, wouldn’t it? What I should’ve said was ‘cheery facade.’

  43. Owen Kaelin

      While I definitely wouldn’t agree that everyone’s an asshole — or even all writers — I’ve definitely noticed that there seems to be a bigger tendency toward Assholism among writers than among, say, painters. Even if we’re really nice most of the time, a lot of us still have our ‘asshole’ sides. And even if we actively try to suppress it, it still comes out. I don’t know what it is about us. Maybe it’s because we’re always making judgments? As the outgrowth of our ‘observer’ trait?

      But there’re writers out there I’ve met and spoken to via email who definitely are not assholes. I won’t mention any names, but I don’t think I have to.

      There’re editors, as well, who are or have been really nice to me via email, while other editors have been assholes via email. I’m just thankful that the ones who’re really nice are there, to be really nice to people.

  44. Jeff

      VS Naipaul

  45. damon

      … looking forward to this invitation.

  46. J

      Mary Gaitskill

  47. Owen Kaelin

      Would this be a cool example of something we’d attach Sigmund Freud’s name to?

  48. JimR

      I understand. You were probably too coked out to read.

  49. Guest

      Taylor Mali (if you count a spoken word author as a writer)

  50. Walt

      T.C. Boyle. Had dinner with him in 04. He is totally and completely up his own ass and could give seven shits about anyone and anything that doesn’t have to do with T.C. Boyle.

  51. alan

      I was going to say.

  52. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      Why?

  53. amoo

      really? do tell.

  54. Walt

      I don’t understand your question.

  55. Ryan Shea

      really? saw her read in MA, she was nice, engaged the audience, addressed questions/reactions well.

  56. daniel bailey

      then answer the question, which writer has the biggest asshole you’ve witnessed personally.

  57. Ani Smith

      is it mean week?

  58. jackie corley

      sherman alexie

      sorry to say it. he was super douchey when i met him at book expo a few years back.

  59. Guest

      What was on the menu?

  60. goner

      Not David Eggers. That man was very nice in person.

  61. Ben Spivey

      har har

  62. Laura

      We’re all assholes, but personally I think my old grad school teacher qualifies. He would have called it “tough love.” I will not give his name.

  63. lily hoang

      junot diaz is the most condescending writer i’ve ever met.

  64. Salvatore Pane
  65. deadgod

      Bill Cosby van Halen?

  66. wax lion

      but it felt like a kiss.

  67. Mimi V.

      Pat Conroy was unfriendly. He was gearing up to do a book signing, and I happened to be in the book store. The owner introduced me to him, and he couldn’t even muster a smile. Acted very put out.

  68. Brian

      Sherman Alexie’s the kind of asshole I like, though. He’s cantankerous. I’ve seen him read a few times and I think he’s very funny and engaging.

  69. L.

      The writer who came off like the biggest asshole after seeing them speak was Jonathan Safran Foer (big shock there, right?)

  70. davidpeak

      i did a reading with someone once who did the following things: 1) when i met him/her, they pretended to cock an imaginary shotgun, then pretended to blow their head off. 2) they walked out in the middle of my reading and slammed the door.

      the first one was pretty funny. the second one just made me feel bad.

  71. Rachel F

      Not sure if he counts as a writer, but Bill Cosby hit me.

  72. geospiza finch

      What did you do to deserve that?

  73. Owen Kaelin

      Freudian slip.

  74. Max

      Yann Martel.

  75. JimR

      A writer I’d invited to Vermin on the Mount showed up late, eyed the room, and left without saying anything because the crowd wasn’t big enough.

  76. Rachel F

      Expected him to sign books while eating croissants that were not from the right bakery.

  77. Guest

      James Joyce towel-whipped me with his velvet cape.

  78. Dreezer

      Ha! I know a guy who works at a hotel where Bill Cosby stayed. He specified a certain type of danish and a certain size drink from Starbucks — the guy went all over town to find this stuff. Not being a Starbucks aficionado, my pal forgot the size of the coffee drink and just got him the biggest. Bill objected, cuz he said the drink doesn’t taste the same in a different size cup. I guess when you’re rich you can have people jump thru hoops to get you just exactly what you want.

  79. Guest

      But Allan Gurganus was fucking nice.

  80. Guest
  81. Guest

      Are we supposed to guess? Wally Lamb.

  82. d

      He wrote me a nice letter once.

  83. c2k
  84. damon

      damn… how is he not embarassed by that?

  85. Jimmy Chen

      my dad.

      he writes emails.

  86. The Answer

      Geoffrey Wolffe is a complete asshole to me over email as an undergrad

  87. The Answer

      (was) — maybe he had a point

  88. ryan

      I wouldn’t call him an asshole—I don’t think he’s actually mean—but he is something of a blowhard.

  89. Matthew Simmons

      You promised me a full house.

  90. ryan

      Should add that I’m kinda fond of blowhards.

  91. ZZZZIPP

      OBAMA???

  92. rambletamble

      starts with greil, ends with arcus

  93. damon

      ha!

  94. Walt

      Don’t be an asshole and haters won’t hate.

  95. Walt

      You know who was real cool? David Foster Wallace. Same with James Ellroy.

      Another asshole: Dick Hebdige. He was the dean of the writing program I graduated from and his contempt for the students was pretty palpable even through his sneery British facade.

  96. jackie corley

      i like a good blowhard but that wasn’t my one on one experience or problem with his douchiness.

      it was this bizarre ‘i’m going to pretend you’re not a human or something one foot away from me as i sign your book’ thing. (i was the only person in line at the signing table at the time.)

      it wasn’t that it was a blow-off (which wouldn’t have been a big deal). it was this ‘i’m going to pretend there’s no matter in front of me making sound at me’ type of thing.

      i’ve just never had that kind of interaction with another person before. it was really, really weird…

  97. Walt

      Actually, a ‘sneery facade’ would indicate contempt from the get, wouldn’t it? What I should’ve said was ‘cheery facade.’

  98. Owen Kaelin

      Since people kept telling me to read “Life of Pi”, I finally read it, and although I liked the book I thought it was pretty crummy that he chose to use the final chapter as a vehicle to completely destroy the entire book by disassembling everything he’d created, piece by piece. I’d never before read a book that the author so thoroughly annihilated in the final chapter.

      So… since then I’ve been advising people who were reading or going to read Life of Pi to NOT READ THE LAST CHAPTER.

      It made me sick to my stomach, what he did to me.

      Hell. I suppose THAT qualifies him as being an asshole.

  99. Owen Kaelin

      By the way, Blake, referring to the article/question: What precisely do you mean by “witness”?

  100. Owen Kaelin

      While I definitely wouldn’t agree that everyone’s an asshole — or even all writers — I’ve definitely noticed that there seems to be a bigger tendency toward Assholism among writers than among, say, painters. Even if we’re really nice most of the time, a lot of us still have our ‘asshole’ sides. And even if we actively try to suppress it, it still comes out. I don’t know what it is about us. Maybe it’s because we’re always making judgments? As the outgrowth of our ‘observer’ trait?

      But there’re writers out there I’ve met and spoken to via email who definitely are not assholes. I won’t mention any names, but I don’t think I have to.

      There’re editors, as well, who are or have been really nice to me via email, while other editors have been assholes via email. I’m just thankful that the ones who’re really nice are there, to be really nice to people.

  101. Owen Kaelin

      Would this be a cool example of something we’d attach Sigmund Freud’s name to?

  102. JimR

      I understand. You were probably too coked out to read.

  103. Aaron

      dickbags: junot diaz, t.c. boyle, and the dude who wrote alive. what a cocksucker that guy was, man. someone should have eaten him on that frozen mountain. (and steve malkmus from pavement while we’re at it. one of the biggest jerks ever.)

      super nice: james ellroy, gary shteyngart, lipsyte, wells tower, jim shepard… the nice person list is huge.

      and sherman alexie was hilarious and considerate when i hosted his reading in ~2005 at powell’s. cantankerous, yes, but not dickey at all. he just had the i-made-it swagger and was cracking jokes with me.

  104. alan

      I was going to say.

  105. Laura

      Point well taken. I think writers tend to be sensitive and perhaps more attuned to situations and sometimes are awkward because of this. Hence the idea that one can more easily be misunderstood, etc.

      I usually tend to respond to my “shy writerly side” by overdoing it so people DON’T think I’m an asshole, but perhaps they do anyway.

      And hell, nobody’s perfect. But paying money to be managed by someone who has issues with the modern world and prefers to take it out on his students: not cool.

      I think “asshole” is an interesting moniker, but what about CAT PEOPLE? They scare me more than anything. Workshops can be catty, too. Catty places. Not exactly assholish but worse in a lot of ways.

  106. Walt

      I don’t understand your question.

  107. Khakjaan Wessington

      Well Garrett Hongo told some chick that being a mommy wasn’t anything special & that she didn’t have anything beyond that to offer. I was just chilling there & I don’t think he cared if I heard him.

      I saw/heard Matthew Roth talk shit to a radio producer about a friend of mine at the Paradise Lounge. It still bugs me that a guy who sucks so much was able to harm the career of a much better writer. He acts all lovey dovey and shit; that Hassid-shit’s just an act.

      Robert Haas promised to call me and never did. He said he liked my verse too. He didn’t need to say that. What a dickweed.

      Christian Parenti had me over for Christmas dinner (okay, it was Jewmas, alright?) right after the dot-bomb & introduced me to Chris Daly. I didn’t even realize who I was dealing w/ at the time. Christian wanted to gloat about his book on the future of surveillance, but wouldn’t answer my direct/repeated question of ‘why I should fear my government more than my fellow citizen?’

      Lawrence Ferlinghetti snapped at me when I was sixteen and was spending all my money on poetry books. When I quoted some nice-sounding bullshit from one of his books of poetry to him, he slammed the door in my face.

      Mark Strand blocked me from following him on Twitter and HTML GIANT censors my posts, because I was a dick and you guys can’t reward that.

      Then there are all the SF cliterati–really, who hasn’t been a lout at the Uptown? That’s what I want to know. I am a dick, you are dicks and it is mutually assured dickstruction all around. Diagnoses of dickliness does not absolve one from being a a dick as well.

      Oh what else… I pissed off a Hungarian literature professor who wanted to give me a scholarship–does it count if one’s being an FM Assheit to famous writers, or does it only count if they are squishing us nobodies, semi-nobodies and somebodies-with-no-money-so-they’re-still-nobodies-in-the-scheme-of-things? If that’s the case, well, I could probably go on for ages. You wouldn’t want that.

      [And seriously, don’t censor this post; I scoured my memory trying to earnestly answer the question as posted.]

  108. deadgod

      Bill Cosby van Halen?

  109. Mary H

      I met him once several years ago. He was a guest on a show at a super-tiny radio station I worked at. After the show we always went across the street to a Chinese buffet for lunch. He was honestly one of the nicest authors we had on the show. Also, very funny. He showed me a picture of his kid from his wallet and was totally normal and nice. Sorry he was a jerk at the signing, but maybe he was having a bad day? I feel like I have to defend him a bit because I must’ve spent at least three hours with him that day and he was nice to everyone.

  110. wax lion

      but it felt like a kiss.

  111. Mimi V.

      Pat Conroy was unfriendly. He was gearing up to do a book signing, and I happened to be in the book store. The owner introduced me to him, and he couldn’t even muster a smile. Acted very put out.

  112. sm

      Mostly people at AWP who give me their CV in the first two minutes of a conversation then ask me who I am in that way–you know, that way? Never had an egregiously rude or bad meeting with a famous type, especially once you factor in stress and whatnot. For what it’s worth, Jonathan Safran Foer was a peach.

  113. Owen Kaelin

      Freudian slip.

  114. Max

      Yann Martel.

  115. d

      He wrote me a nice letter once.

  116. ZZZZIPP

      OBAMA???

  117. rambletamble

      starts with greil, ends with arcus

  118. Owen Kaelin

      Since people kept telling me to read “Life of Pi”, I finally read it, and although I liked the book I thought it was pretty crummy that he chose to use the final chapter as a vehicle to completely destroy the entire book by disassembling everything he’d created, piece by piece. I’d never before read a book that the author so thoroughly annihilated in the final chapter.

      So… since then I’ve been advising people who were reading or going to read Life of Pi to NOT READ THE LAST CHAPTER.

      It made me sick to my stomach, what he did to me.

      Hell. I suppose THAT qualifies him as being an asshole.

  119. Owen Kaelin

      By the way, Blake, referring to the article/question: What precisely do you mean by “witness”?

  120. Aaron

      dickbags: junot diaz, t.c. boyle, and the dude who wrote alive. what a cocksucker that guy was, man. someone should have eaten him on that frozen mountain. (and steve malkmus from pavement while we’re at it. one of the biggest jerks ever.)

      super nice: james ellroy, gary shteyngart, lipsyte, wells tower, jim shepard… the nice person list is huge.

      and sherman alexie was hilarious and considerate when i hosted his reading in ~2005 at powell’s. cantankerous, yes, but not dickey at all. he just had the i-made-it swagger and was cracking jokes with me.

  121. Laura

      Point well taken. I think writers tend to be sensitive and perhaps more attuned to situations and sometimes are awkward because of this. Hence the idea that one can more easily be misunderstood, etc.

      I usually tend to respond to my “shy writerly side” by overdoing it so people DON’T think I’m an asshole, but perhaps they do anyway.

      And hell, nobody’s perfect. But paying money to be managed by someone who has issues with the modern world and prefers to take it out on his students: not cool.

      I think “asshole” is an interesting moniker, but what about CAT PEOPLE? They scare me more than anything. Workshops can be catty, too. Catty places. Not exactly assholish but worse in a lot of ways.

  122. Khakjaan Wessington

      Well Garrett Hongo told some chick that being a mommy wasn’t anything special & that she didn’t have anything beyond that to offer. I was just chilling there & I don’t think he cared if I heard him.

      I saw/heard Matthew Roth talk shit to a radio producer about a friend of mine at the Paradise Lounge. It still bugs me that a guy who sucks so much was able to harm the career of a much better writer. He acts all lovey dovey and shit; that Hassid-shit’s just an act.

      Robert Haas promised to call me and never did. He said he liked my verse too. He didn’t need to say that. What a dickweed.

      Christian Parenti had me over for Christmas dinner (okay, it was Jewmas, alright?) right after the dot-bomb & introduced me to Chris Daly. I didn’t even realize who I was dealing w/ at the time. Christian wanted to gloat about his book on the future of surveillance, but wouldn’t answer my direct/repeated question of ‘why I should fear my government more than my fellow citizen?’

      Lawrence Ferlinghetti snapped at me when I was sixteen and was spending all my money on poetry books. When I quoted some nice-sounding bullshit from one of his books of poetry to him, he slammed the door in my face.

      Mark Strand blocked me from following him on Twitter and HTML GIANT censors my posts, because I was a dick and you guys can’t reward that.

      Then there are all the SF cliterati–really, who hasn’t been a lout at the Uptown? That’s what I want to know. I am a dick, you are dicks and it is mutually assured dickstruction all around. Diagnoses of dickliness does not absolve one from being a a dick as well.

      Oh what else… I pissed off a Hungarian literature professor who wanted to give me a scholarship–does it count if one’s being an FM Assheit to famous writers, or does it only count if they are squishing us nobodies, semi-nobodies and somebodies-with-no-money-so-they’re-still-nobodies-in-the-scheme-of-things? If that’s the case, well, I could probably go on for ages. You wouldn’t want that.

      [And seriously, don’t censor this post; I scoured my memory trying to earnestly answer the question as posted.]

  123. Mary H

      I met him once several years ago. He was a guest on a show at a super-tiny radio station I worked at. After the show we always went across the street to a Chinese buffet for lunch. He was honestly one of the nicest authors we had on the show. Also, very funny. He showed me a picture of his kid from his wallet and was totally normal and nice. Sorry he was a jerk at the signing, but maybe he was having a bad day? I feel like I have to defend him a bit because I must’ve spent at least three hours with him that day and he was nice to everyone.

  124. sm

      Mostly people at AWP who give me their CV in the first two minutes of a conversation then ask me who I am in that way–you know, that way? Never had an egregiously rude or bad meeting with a famous type, especially once you factor in stress and whatnot. For what it’s worth, Jonathan Safran Foer was a peach.

  125. Garett Strickland

      I felt

      1) Shelley Jackson
      2) Mary Ruefle

      both behaved like haughty, disinterested bitches when I approached each of them earnestly about common ground. Nothing says -I think I’m better than you- better than looking around disinterestedly while someone else is speaking and giving clipped, glib answers once finally mustering up some kind of response.

  126. Garett Strickland

      Oh what is a writer if not indignant about *something*?

  127. Rich

      Why do you hate animals?
      ;)

  128. Garett Strickland

      I felt

      1) Shelley Jackson
      2) Mary Ruefle

      both behaved like haughty, disinterested bitches when I approached each of them earnestly about common ground. Nothing says -I think I’m better than you- better than looking around disinterestedly while someone else is speaking and giving clipped, glib answers once finally mustering up some kind of response.

  129. Garett Strickland

      Oh what is a writer if not indignant about *something*?

  130. ZZZZIPP

      OWEN DON’T YOU GET IT WHETHER OR NOT YOU BELIEVE THE LAST CHAPTER SHOWS WHAT KIND OF A PERSON YOU ARE. WHY IS THE OTHER STORY FALSE? ONLY BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN CONDITIONED.

  131. Rich

      Why do you hate animals?
      ;)

  132. Richard - Zine-Scene

      I thought Shelley was really nice when I saw here. She stayed around after the reading and talked with a bunch of people and seemed really laid back… It might have been because she was hosted by the University of Alabama faculty, who are really laid back too.

  133. claybanes

      As I always say, babies, your whole crew.

  134. ZZZZIPP

      OWEN DON’T YOU GET IT WHETHER OR NOT YOU BELIEVE THE LAST CHAPTER SHOWS WHAT KIND OF A PERSON YOU ARE. WHY IS THE OTHER STORY FALSE? ONLY BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN CONDITIONED.

  135. Richard - Zine-Scene

      I thought Shelley was really nice when I saw here. She stayed around after the reading and talked with a bunch of people and seemed really laid back… It might have been because she was hosted by the University of Alabama faculty, who are really laid back too.

  136. Ken Baumann

      This.

  137. claybanes

      As I always say, babies, your whole crew.

  138. Steven Augustine
  139. Ken Baumann

      This.

  140. Steven Augustine
  141. red bottom

      there was a towel-snapping incident in the locker room with seuss.

  142. red bottom

      there was a towel-snapping incident in the locker room with seuss.

  143. Blake Butler

      dayummmm

  144. marshall

      taylor mali is a try-hard

  145. Blake Butler

      i guess just like seeing

  146. Blake Butler

      dayummmm

  147. Guest

      taylor mali is a try-hard

  148. Blake Butler

      i guess just like seeing

  149. asterisk

      Joshua Ferris. Not really sure if he qualifies as “writer,” though he certainly seems to think so.

  150. asterisk

      Joshua Ferris. Not really sure if he qualifies as “writer,” though he certainly seems to think so.

  151. dingledorf

      Now that I think about it, nobody likes Franzen cause he has cool hair. Most people here cut their own with office scissors.

  152. dingledorf

      Now that I think about it, nobody likes Franzen cause he has cool hair. Most people here cut their own with office scissors.

  153. AdamC

      So, when we say “so and so was an asshat,” are we referring mainly to people who one time made us feel bad because they ignored us for reasons we can’t articulate? Or is there someone out there who has a seriously nasty story to contribute? Like is there anyone who was ever walking his dog, and Richard Ford walked by and kicked it and ran off?

  154. AdamC

      So, when we say “so and so was an asshat,” are we referring mainly to people who one time made us feel bad because they ignored us for reasons we can’t articulate? Or is there someone out there who has a seriously nasty story to contribute? Like is there anyone who was ever walking his dog, and Richard Ford walked by and kicked it and ran off?