Mortification: Writers' Stories of Their Public Shame
(Fourth Estate, 288 pages, $17.95)
Apparently, writers have massive egos. Who'd have thunk it? Poet Robin Robertson has collected this amusing if wholly unnecessary compendium of writers sharing tales of egos bruised and bloodied by public reaction (and nonreaction) to their work. More than a dozen estimable writers like Chuck Palahniuk, Margaret Atwood and Carl Hiaasen commiserate over readings/ appearances gone bad (or unattended). Were it not for their already well-documented writing abilities, these stories would all come off as irrepressibly pathetic. The beauty is that, despite the obvious irony of their inflated self-images to think that we actually care about their reaction to our previous noncaring these stories of nonhumbling humiliation are still filled with enough schadenfreude to make for a pleasant read.