My ignorance occasionally amuses the Financial Times

Britain’s Financial Times pretty much disembowels WAIW? and its author, yours truly, in today’s paper.

Reviewer Emma Jacobs doesn’t waste any time or, for that matter, the first two sentences before telling us what she thinks:

Kelsey Timmerman’s investigation into the underbelly of globalisation is moronic. I am not being unkind.

My favorite part is how she begins one paragraph, “His ignorance is occasionally amusing.” (Wait, is that a compliment? Did I charm her with my ignorance?) And then begins another paragraph, “Ultimately his ignorance is maddening…” (Darn! I thought I had her.)

I expected bad reviews (maybe not to this extent) and I’ve received one. No big deal. I don’t expect to be the first author ever to not receive a far less than glowing review. However, I do think the review lacked in a few areas.

The facts being one of them…

She writes that I’m a self-proclaimed beach bum. That’s wrong. I write about bumping into a former classmate who was working at Wal-Mart before beginning my quest and how he called me a beach bum. A self-proclaimed beach bum, I’m not.

Ms. Jacobs is dazzled by my ignorance when I ask a “twenty something” (her words not mine) Bangladeshi woman if she knew Gandhi. The woman is not a “twenty something” woman; she is, in fact, UN Special Envoy/Former supermodel/designer/sixty-something Bibi Russell. Still, I’m somewhat ignorant thinking that Bibi may have met Gandhi (Bibi was born a decade after Gandhi’s death), but not so ignorant that I thought anyone in their twenties would have met him.

I checked and both of these facts are quite clear in the book.

And speaking of the Bibi Russell/Gandhi mix-up…that’s called self-deprecation. If a reviewer doesn’t like the book, I’d expect them to use examples other than the author’s self deprecations. That seems kind of lazy.

Bowels or no bowels, I’m happy to have been reviewed in the Financial Times.

Nomadic Matt says:

they say all PR is good PR

Julia says:

Shame on Emma Jacobs! She didn’t read the book. I hate it when people review books without reading them carefully. Obviously this Financial Times writer has no sense of responsibility to be fair or accurate, so I wonder what standards she is expected to follow at FT?

Of course these days, FT doesn’t have much to report on but collapsing banks, the implosion of globalization, and the sea-change in the capitalist model in the UK and worldwide. Ms. Jacobs probably labors under the pall of doom and gloom and resented the unglamorous assignment to review a book.

FT represents the capitalist establishment which is really hurting right now. One could even argue that Timmerman, in all his supposed ignorance, is sounding a warning to capitalism as we’ve known it–to ‘pay proper attention to the manufacturing side!’

At the end of her hatchet job Jacobs finally concedes the possible strength of Matt’s book in its appeal to younger readers. This was the main point of my review ( because it’s probably already too late for older people to change things.

Julie says:

I haven’t read your book. I did read Jacobs’ review, though and have this to say: It’s poorly written. There’s nothing wrong with writing a critical review, but to open a review by attempting to engage the reader by appealing to a lowest common denominator kind of logic, and one that’s just flat out rude, to boot–the writer and his book are moronic–is a cop-out. Jacobs’ review hardly hangs together and doesn’t develop at all. Too bad she missed an opportunity to really engage with your book and your motives.

Eva says:

Hmph. A lot of her complaints/misrepresentations also seem to stem from the idea that WAIW? is supposed to be some sort of globalization textbook, rather than what it is — a travelogue. (Which, in my mind, pretty much invalidates her flip-flop rant.) I wrote a letter to the FT suggesting that before flashing the word “moronic” around, Ms. Jacobs may wish to check her basic facts. “Twenty-something”? Honestly!

Kyle Timmerman says:

LOL! I emailed a letter yesterday.

Melissa says:

I’m a little confused…I mean, at the beginning she says, “Instead he is just “a consumer on a quest” to find out what life is like for the people who made his clothes. And he is an endearing and unassuming tour guide, as he takes the reader on a journey to Honduras, Bangladesh, Cambodia and China to meet the people who make most of the world’s clothes.”

Ahm, isn’t that the basis for your book? I mean, there is more to it, but that is kinda the one line summary of your book…or did I miss something? I agree with Eva–this is not a textbook.

Lynne says:

My first thought was, “This woman did not read the book, more likely just “skimmed.” My second thought, “I’d like to kick her ass!” I tend to get fired up when someone is “unjust” to one of my kids.

Kent says:

I’m sure Denzel would tell you to “get that dirt off ya shoulda”

She obviously missed the point.

Matt Barhorst says:

She’s British, she’s just pissed she has bad teeth. And she’s probably ugly.

And I agree, she didn’t read the book. And I hate when people spell globalization with an “s.” That just pisses me off.

Eva says:

Heh. Just got an email from – my letter has been passed along to the reporter in question!

Kelsey, just remember:

Those who can write, do.

Those who can’t but wish they could become self-absorbed reviewers with no sense of humor and a continual bug up their behinds.

Kelsey says:

Thanks to everyone for the encouraging words, the letters of disgust to the FT, and venting for me.

I’m brushing off the “ignorant moron” think and walking away with this quote from the review: “an endearing and unassuming tour guide on a journey to meet the people who make most of the world’s clothes.”

One last thing…

Yesterday I met a friend for dinner before my reading in Dayton. Mom was with us. When I told my friend about the FT review Mom whipped it out of her purse.

I looked at Mom and said, “Got any good reviews in there?”

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