March 26th, 2007 5:33 pm | by Paige Richmond News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP

Publisher throws down the literary gauntlet

It's nice to know someone is reading my book reviews, even if they don't agree with me. But it's especially flattering when a publishing company holds an essay contest about my unflattering review of their latest release.
Astoria-based Times Eagle Press placed an ad in this week's Portland Mercury asking the paper's readers to voice their opinions on two contrasting reviews of V.O. Blum's Split Creek. Blum's novel is the fictional autobiography of Friedrich Dassen, an anti-fascist German soldier living in an American POW camp during World War II. In the ad, excerpts of two Split Creek reviews run side by side under the heading, “The Gap.” One excerpt, credited to KBOO's Marlene Smith, heralds the novel as “fascinating” and claims that the author is “right on top of his game.” The other excerpt, taken from my less-than-glowing review of Split Creek (see “Words,” WW, Jan. 10, 2007), pans the novel as “a ridiculous, preachy mess.” (Times Eagle failed to include my opinion of the novel's protagonist as “pushy, stubborn, and kind of dumb”—a statement I firmly stand by.)
Times Eagle goes on to request that Mercury readers weigh in on whether Blum's novel is a “Didactic treatise? …or parable of the specter of fascism in Bush America?” The ad contains the following call to action:
“Merc readers—decide! Win $25 by submitting most elegant 300-word resolution of this literary dispute. Save your Creek receipt…then email for contest rules and deadline.”

I can't in good conscience recommend that WW readers actually read Split Creek. But if you want to give Mercury readers a little friendly competition, pick up a copy of the Merc and check out Times Eagle's ad on page 44 (it'll tell you where to buy the book). Then read my review at And if your opinion differs from mine, by all means enter Times Eagle's contest. You could win 25 bucks.
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