Book Beat: Dan Mallory Lies, Jill Abramson Plagiarizes, and McNally Jackson Thrives

Book Beat: Dan Mallory Lies, Jill Abramson Plagiarizes, and McNally Jackson Thrives
Book Beat: the latest news in publishing for the week of February 10, 2019, which includes details on the recent Dan Mallory and Jill Abramson scandals!

Hello, dear readers! It's Paige, back on the Book Beat to share all the latest and greatest news in the publishing industry. And, of course, my first week back is heralded by a slew of controversies, though I wouldn't have it any other way. Thankfully, this week we also have a feel-good story about the

Hello, dear readers! It’s Paige, back on the Book Beat to share all the latest and greatest news in the publishing industry. And, of course, my first week back is heralded by a slew of controversies, though I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thankfully, this week we also have a feel-good story about the continued perseverance of independent bookstores to balance things out. We also have a great list of new releases to kick off your 2019 reading challenge, which I hope includes some entries from Bookmarked’s own Reading Challenge. Hint, hint!

With all that said, let’s dive right into the news this week.

Pathological White Male Behavior Strikes Again

Image of Author Dan Mallory

One of the most prevailing images in humanity’s modern cultural zeitgeist is that of the self-made man. He’s charismatic. He’s humorously self-deprecating. He flirts with conventional attractiveness. He might severely lack all the qualifications, tangible job experience, and discipline needed for the particular path to success he wants, but darn it, just so many people are willing to take a chance on him!

And he’s white, relatively well-off often thanks to his family, and has all those subtle markers of privilege that seem to be glossed over in favor of a narrative of rugged, boot-strapping individualism.

The most recent example of this strange caricature of success comes to us from Netflix’s You—whoops, hold on. I mean, it comes to us from The Ted Bundy Tapes—wait, not that one either. I mean it comes from the current U.S. administration—no! Actually, our latest example comes from Dan Mallory, a suspense author whose personal web of deceit has been unraveled in The New Yorker.

This stunning investigative report unravels the twisted, decades-long trail of deception left behind by Mallory, known more famously by his pseudonym A.J. Finn, and his New York Times bestseller debut The Woman in the Window. Like many profiles on highly suspect people, Mallory’s story includes such innocuous youthful indiscretions as pretending his entire family was dead in order to gain sympathy from adults, and successfully lying about graduating from Oxford. All this culminates into an adulthood spent schmoozing his way into exclusive writing circles, using his snake-oil salesman charm to get highly advanced work in editorial departments, and leaving urine-filled cups in the offices of people he didn’t like on his way to his next ill-gotten opportunity.

On one hand, Mallory’s many successes is an amusingly horrific reenactment of The Great Gatsby. But as Stylist points out, it is also a subtly insidious example of how the publishing industry—and the world at large—treats men and women differently. Privileged men can literally fail up to fame and fortune on a foundation of lies. Women, especially if they’re marginalized across race, class, and gender identity, usually aren’t even allowed a foot in the door.

The Merchant of Truth Writes A New Book Filled with Inaccuracies and Plagiarism

It has really been a bad week of honesty and integrity in the publishing world. While Dan Mallory’s lies have just come to light in an explosive way, the plagiarism saga of former The New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson has been quietly raging since the start of the year.

Accusations against Abramson and her new book, Merchants of Truth, began in January. After being interviewed by Abramson, Vice News Tonight correspondent Arielle Duhaime-Ross found that Abramson severely misinterpreted their conversation, and included several inaccuracies about her life and profession in the book’s galley copy, such as wrongly identifying the “queer, gender non-conforming female writer” as trans.

For her part, Abramson acknowledged her error and corrected the information. However, now that The Merchants of Truth was officially released last week, Vice News Tonight correspondent Michael C. Moynihan and freelance journalist Ian Frisch have also taken Abramson to task. Moynihan has since pointed out additional inaccuracies in the text, while Frisch found that Abramson had outright plagiarized several of his recent work.

Abramson has been on something of an apology tour since these new accusations. While she steadfastly denies any explicit plagiarism and has accused Vice of waging a negative campaign against her, she does acknowledge there may have been some errors in crediting her sources for the book. All the same, the evidence at this point is pretty damning. One only wonders what else will be revealed.

McNally Jackson Weathers the Storm

McNally Jackson

This news has been blowing up my TL over the last few days, so I thought it would be of interest to Book Beat readers as well. In October 2018, Sarah McNally broke the news that her beloved indie bookstore McNally Jackson was being forced to move from its prime location on Prince Street due to skyrocketing rent costs.

Despite the apparent swan song of another indie bookstore, McNally has a new announcement to share with New York book lovers. First, McNally Jackson is not moving from Prince Street, at least for now. McNally was able to successfully negotiate a graduate five-year rent increase deal with her landlord, after which time they will reassess the viability of McNally Jackson’s existence on Prince Street. Meanwhile, the indie bookstore is expanding with two new locations opening in the fall, one in downtown Brooklyn and the other in South Street Seaport. As the bookstore already has satellite stores in Williamsburg and LaGuardia, it looks like McNally Jackson is here for the long haul in the city.

“If you had told me when I opened my first store, when I was 29, that I would eventually open four, I would have said no way,” McNally said in her Vulture announcement. “There are so many extraordinary booksellers that I’m not afraid anymore. I can just pass the new stores over—it’s like a trust fall or something.”

It’s always good to see the indie scene thrive. So, congratulations to McNally Jackson’s staff and supporters!

Out This Week

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson & Ellen Hagan

The Black Coats by Colleen Oakes

The Source of Self-Regard by Toni Morrison

Cover for American Spy

Happy Thursday (and a very Happy Valentine’s Day)!

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