Aesthetic genius

By SHARON STEEL  |  August 30, 2007

But in the wake of Morgan’s piece came a steady stream of blog posts, dubious commentary, and inquisitive Q&As, nearly all of which either focused on or, at the very least mentioned her T-shirt clad bodice, her blond hair, and her alluring features.

“Lit Boys,” a dapper class that includes N+1 co-editor Benjamin Kunkel, 35, the author of a much-fussed-over coming-of-age debut, Indecision, and Dana Vachon, 28, a banker-cum-novelist whose Mergers & Acquisitions caused a similar clamor and was hailed as this generation’s Bright Lights Big City, have also been scoffed at for their mop-tops, icicle blue eyes, and sensitive gazes. But the most venomous tongue-lashings reviews are reserved for the ladies. “I think this is because there’s absolutely nothing scarier to some people than the idea that a woman might be beautiful and smart,” Gould says. “Also, because of the silly ways these women’s publishers tend to position them . . . that’s just stupid, and the ladies have no one to blame but themselves for going along with it.”

Literary gossip set up Taylor either as a less-than-serious chick-lit writer who is against chick-lit, or as a woman whose prettiness was not so subtly hinted as the only reason that her career had been launched. “Very quickly, you learn to accept criticism of all sorts,” Taylor says.

Taylor is already working on her second book, but she sounds sad when she talks about what happened to her first. What’s silly, she says, isn’t how she is posed in her author photograph or what she writes about, but how the critical community chose to evaluate her work. “I haven’t had a very long career as a writer, but while I was publishing stories, and when I got this book contract, nobody knew what I looked like or who I was at all. My appearance had nothing to do with anything,” Taylor says. “But I’m not terribly concerned. . . . The book is there, the book is always going to be there. . . . I think the book stands on its own. All the noise surrounding it is just noise.

“I feel like whatever you have to do to get your book in the cultural conversation is all fair,” Taylor says. “Because the bottom line is, you’ve put so much of yourself and so many years of your life into what you’re doing. The greatest tragedy would be if nobody noticed.”

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