We'd figured that the hoopla over Sherry Jones and The Jewel of Medina was pretty much over, now that the book's been out in the United States for a few months without any terrorist attacks on Beaufort Books, the independent publisher that picked up the novel after Ballantine Books scrapped its two-book deal with the author. Jones is still making the rounds promoting her novel, however, and a recent appearance at BookPeople in Austin, Texas, prompted a bit of local media snark from Austin American-Statesman books editor Jeff Salamon, who made a condescending reference to the indie bookstore's newsletter announcement that the novel's publication prompted "no threats or riots... only good reviews and readers finding a tremendous story." Well, Salamon retorted, "given that the two most prominent reviews the book has gotten in this country called the book 'a misstep-ridden, pleasant-enough mediocrity' and the work of an 'inexperienced, untalented author,' the generous 'only good reviews' strikes me as a stretch."
Never mind that "only" in this case was probably intended to contrast "good reviews" with "threats and riots," not as an adverbial modifier of "good reviews." BookPeople's events coordinator apparently felt sufficiently chastised to report to Salamon that "she was relying on Publishers Weekly's review and a bunch of different blogs" in describing The Jewel of Medina, which simply prompted the critic to sneer that "you can find good reviews of almost anything—including the worst self-published dreck imaginable—on blogs." That's right, he went there. Now, some people might be tempted to dig through the American-Statesman book review archives to find some choice examples of cases in which Salamon and his crew praised some chunk of big publishing dreck, but who has time to look through yesterday's papers?
Anyway, the BookPeople reading went fine, with Jones facing nothing harsher than a few mildly aggressive questions from among the dozen or so audience members—which we suppose simply proves the original BookPeople blurb's point. After all, if the hometown of Denise Spellberg, the University of Texas professor who went out of her way to turn Jones's novel into an object of religious hysteria, couldn't deliver anything stronger than a grumpy book reviewer and an indignant bookstore customer, we suppose the hoopla really must be over.