How to Get Insulted by Authors


It’s official: we’ve found our new favorite blog. Bill Ryan, a New York based book lover, is collecting insults from his literary heroes. It all started around six years ago at a book signing at the excellent BookCourt, when on a whim, Ryan asked Maggie Pouncey to inscribe his book with an insult instead of a dedication. Now, in his wonderfully entertaining blog, Insulted By Authors, Ryan documents his adventures getting insulted by – or not getting insulted by, as the case may be – his favorite authors, and displays the creatively rude missives for our enjoyment. Click through for some of our favorite insults from Ryan’s collection, but be warned – these are word people, and some of their language is quite colorful. Perhaps it is redundant to say, but the faint of heart should not read Amy Sedaris’s contribution.

Ryan also writes book reviews in his aforementioned blog and kind of has the exact same taste in fiction as we do, so that’s positive. He is also one of the few reviewers who can write about the readings he attends in a way that is palatable – nay, pleasant! – to read for someone who wasn’t there. In fact, often more interesting than the insults themselves are Ryan’s wry anecdotes about his interactions with the insult-bestowing authors. We recommend particularly the Rick Moody and Jonathan Safran Foer evenings.

After all, as Ryan told the LA Times,

Part of the fun is seeing how the authors react. It’s not fair to spring it on them, but there it is. It is fun. It’s like sneaking my way into a Presidential press conference and tossing a curveball in with all those softballs the reporters throw; or, maybe more like tossing a water balloon alongside the softballs. Not sure. I get the same smug or horrified looks from the people behind me in line as I’d likely get from the press pool for asking President Obama what his favorite ice cream is. People love looking down on effort and sincerity. Some authors take it in stride, some love the idea, some hate it but grit their teeth, some roll their eyes, some love showing me how stupid the idea is (and by proxy, how stupid I am), some can’t deal with it and flat-out reject. It’s the last group who I can’t understand. I mean, it’s their prerogative; no one owes me a damn thing. But -– really? You can’t play along?

Thank goodness (for us, at least), there are many people who could play along:

Karen Russell

David Mitchell

Jennifer Egan

Wells Tower

Amy Sedaris

Tao Lin

Rick Moody

Tom McCarthy

Make sure to check out Insulted by Authors for even more delicious antagonism and apt book reviewing!