July 20, 2012

New Yorker editor praises Adam Gopnik, thinks all critics “bullshit”


Adam Gopnik

“I sometimes wonder if Adam Gopnik was put on this earth to annoy,” James Walcott once wrote in the New Republic. “If so, mission accomplished.”

Renata Adler, no friend of Walcott’s, once described the New Yorker writer’s personal style as “meaching,” and wrote that “I had learned over the course of conversations with Mr. Gopnik that his questions were not questions, or even quite soundings. Their purpose was to maneuver you into advising him to do what he would, in any case, walk over corpses to do.”

And a few years back, New York magazine’s Jessica Pressler advised critics not to get too worked up over Gopnik: “It’s like getting annoyed by traffic or long lines or Glenn Beck — if you allow it to bother you, you could spend the rest of your life pissed off and muttering to yourself.”

Pressler’s sage advice, however, will be of no use to a man never annoyed with Gopnik: his boss, New Yorker editor David Remnick. According to a Gawker dispatch by Hamilton Nolan, Remnick defends Gopnick at length in a recent interview, calling his critics “bullshit” and suggesting that “The day any of these people write anything even remotely as fine and intelligent as Adam Gopnik will be a cold day in hell.”

For Nolan, who calls Gopnik a “twee little pastry fetishist Francophile yuppie shit,” Remnick’s defense of Gopnik is a “bizarre blind spot, which evidences a rather grievous lack of taste and judgment, [though] we still believe David Remnick to be a journalist of the highest quality.”

Gopnik, however, “is still the living embodiment of unbearable smugness.”


Kelly Burdick is the executive editor of Melville House.