WIROB: Marital Malice

Many people have asked how my wife, Tara Laskowski, and I are handling it—being up for the same award in the same category in the same year at Malice Domestic.

In my Washington Independent Review of Books column today, I give a glimpse at the anxiety of it all—against the backdrop of a history of literary feuding. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Mario Vargas Llosa punched Gabriel Garcia Marquez in the nose. Norman Mailer head-butted Gore Vidal. Theodore Dreiser slapped Sinclair Lewis. Leo Tolstoy challenged Ivan Turgenev to a duel. Marcel Proust and Jean Lorraine actually did duel, pistols and all. (There’s also Richard Ford spitting on Colson Whitehead, but that’s a different kind of physicality.)

Then you have Hemingway feuding with F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Hemingway feuding with William Faulkner, and Hemingway feuding with Gertrude Stein, and Hemingway feuding with Wallace Stevens. (Some common denominator here, it seems, if only we could figure out what.)

Some rivalries are less physical melees than wars of words, thought maybe with no less bitterness. David Foster Wallace called Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho a “mean shallow stupid novel.” Mary McCarthy said that every word Lillian Hellman wrote was “a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.’” And Margaret Drabble said that one of A.S. Byatt’s books was “mean-spirited” — and those two are sisters!

But what about in the mystery community, where kindness is the norm? And what about marriages, two people who’ve chosen to form a bond? Shouldn’t everything go more smoothly in those cases?

Read the full article here—and wish us luck….