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February 5, 2006

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Gladwell Backlash

Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, Blink, has inspired two name-alike books mocking his argument (as it’s commonly understood) — Think! and Blank. The second comment in the MetaFilter thread on Gladwell’s latest essay called him “collossally overrated.” And although Rachel Donaldio doesn’t come right out and say it in her NYTBR profile of Gladwell, I suspect she might agree with the MeFi poster. With a Blink movie in pre-production, are we at the tipping point of the Gladwell backlash yet?

Gladwell’s response to the two books (e-mailed to FishBowlNY) is the best: “i’m slightly gratified that it took two writers to parody me. i’d hate to think i could be parodied by just one. :-)”

Posted February 5, 2006 at 12:31 | Comments (4) | Permasnark
File under: Books, Writing & Such, Briefly Noted


I didn't think the NYTBR profile was all that anti-Gladwell. It seemed the short critical middle section was thrown in to seem balanced.

Maybe you're right, Rex. I might have judged Rachel Donaldio too harshly. I think I was reading too much into descriptions like "pithy, easily digestible anecdotes" and statements like, "Indeed, he seems a contemporary incarnation of a recurring figure in the American experience, one who comes with encouraging news: You can make a difference, you have the capacity to change. Gladwell may be the Dale Carnegie, or perhaps the Norman Vincent Peale, of the iPod generation." Dale Carnegie comparisons aren't entirely flattering in this day and age, no?

The best thing, though, was that the article ultimately succumbs to the same eureka! counterintuitiveness it describes Gladwell as practicing. The eureka moment comes in the penultimate paragraph: "Although pitched as descriptive, Gladwell's books are essentially prescriptive. Trust your instincts! You too may be (or can become) a connector, maven or salesman! Gladwell's dazzling arguments ultimately offer reassurance."

Okay, those quotes make me change my mind. You're right!

That's great. We need a Blink movie like we need a sequel to "What the Bleep." (Presumably, "What the Bleepity Bleep," -- which, ironically, just about sums up my thoughts upon finishing Gladwell's latest book.)

Posted by: Bounce on May 14, 2007 at 03:03 PM
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