I’ve always wondered why I can’t stand Alain de Botton. A bit square perhaps, but intelligent, with a talent for humanising complex concepts into everyday language, sort of a walking Economist magazine with a bald head.
In response to a New York Times review of his latest book – by a reviewer who’d praised an earlier book, so hardly an attackist – the boohooing Botton has thrown a hissy fit, stating he’ll “hate you until the day I die and wish you ill-will in every career move you ever make.” Oooh, miaow!
The review’s not even a hatchet job; it’s just not a blow job. It casts questions on Botton’s somewhat supercilious and condescending reports – mostly interviews about people’s working lives. This is a valid criticism of someone like Botton, whose parents left him £200m. (Apparently this trust fund remains untouched by Botton, although “having £7.45m from selling books” and a CV that lists only six don’t square very well. (So few people read in this country that you can hit the bestseller lists with sales of 10K or so; I sincerely doubt the latest Alain de Botton sells as many copies as an Andy McNab, which is what Botton’s implying.)
In other words, the reviewer just doesn’t like the book very much, and has reviewed it according to this finding. Fair enough. Life’s hard; take the knocks you’re dealt and roll with the punches when you can.
What’s more, the balding crybaby reveals his real motivation during his fit: it’s all about the money. He believes Crain has “killed his book in the US market”. It’s just about profits, then. Never mind that even a bad review creates publicity selling tens of thousands of copies. (Ask any restaurant that’s been negatively reviewed: its tables are heaving for weeks afterwards.) The self-styled great philosopher, whose own homepage appears to compare him to great figures of history (maybe he should book an hour’s slot on Trafalgar Square’s spare plinth) is motivated purely by the impure greenbacks.
The blubbing boy-child Botton has therefore exposed himself: prissy, fragile-ego’d, and possessed of a breathtaking self-importance worthy of Michael Winner. Not a bad day’s work for the NYT reviewer…