Literary Rivals: Feuds and Antagonisms in the World of Books
Who doesn’t love a good rivalry? From the Hatfields and McCoys to Springfield and Shelbyville, rivalries can drive terrific, multi-generational stories loaded with wit and vitriol. This is especially true of literary rivals, who put their creative chops to work eviscerating foes and critics alike with pointed puns and devastating descriptions. Literary Rivals recounts some of the most infamous and spite-fueled disputes in the world of literature, not only between authors, but between authors and critics, and, in Salmon Rushdie’s case, an author and an entire religion.
The book starts off strong with the likes of Mailer, Vidal, and Capote, and then focuses on specific pairs that invested plenty of time, energy, and ink into destroying each other’s reputations. And while these rivalries are certainly entertaining — the banter alone is worth the charge of admission — reading about several of them in a row begins to feel like watching reality television: an unpleasant exercise in observing schadenfraude.
Bradford does his best to remain objective, offering context without judgment, and that is a saving grace for this book. If he’d chosen sides, that would’ve pushed things a step too far.
The Robson Press