Joyce Carol Oates, Anorexia, Jacob Epstein, Steve Biro and Aplastic Anemia


I find myself eagerly awaiting Joyce Carol Oates' next publication, so I can watch you guys rip her throat out. It's like Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom when the big cat kills the zebra using his teeth.

Your evocation of what went through the slag's mind as she composed her Best Essay of the Century is destined for a niche right next to Mark Twain's evisceration of Fenimore Cooper (the "snapping twig" essay).

If your pan of the Greatest Essays of the Century does not enter the canon, then the Oates' of this world will have done their burial job well.

---Brad Bayonne


I was shocked and disgusted by your lack of empathy for a devastating mental illness. [See original review of Wasted.] I doubt that you would have been so callous if the author had written about cancer or some 'acceptable' illness. The sad truth is that many mental illnesses, anorexia and bulimia included, are still looked upon as shameful. Many so-called 'professionals' do not understand these illnesses, and are ill-prepared to deal with them, to help their patients cope; the worst part is that a large majority will not admit to this.

I should know. I am in university studying psychology, but I also live with depression, self-injury, an eating disorder not otherwise specified, along with a few others. It is not unusual to see mental illnesses grouped together, especially in the case of depression and eating disorders. My personal experience has not been up to par. I've been told that this is merely a phase that I should grow out of. This is the kind of treatment that thousands of women and men receive when they seek out support. And the public wonders why we hide this.

Your review was in bad taste, and I would suggest that you either remove it entirely, or find someone a little less biased to write a new copy. I read the book, and I found it to be an incredibly accurate portrayal of eating disorders. By leaving this review on your website, you are promoting the misguided belief that mental illnesses are something to be ashamed of. In truth, they are no worse than cancer or a physical deformity.

Don't treat us as beneath you. One in every 6 North Americans has or will be diagnosed with some form of mental illness.

--- Cheers,

Dear Lolita:

I thoroughly enjoyed RALPH'S atomization of Jason Epstein's idiotic book.

My only sorrow is that you didn't grab the opportunity to remind the world that it was his darling son, Jacob, who plagiarized a novel by Kingsley Amis' darling son back in the seventies.The stolen material constituted a considerable part Jacob Epstein's first (and last --- I hope) published novel.

Before the theft was exposed, the book got a huge boost, not surprisingly. Ads in Time called Jacob "the New Woody Allen," and gave us a picture of him simpering shyly as only darling sons can do.Then the shit hit the fan --- or it would have, if Papa Epstein hadn't been entrenched at the very top levels of the incestuous cabal that has run American book publishing for at least forty years. Shame, degradation, public apologies --- the sort of thing one might expect in such a situation --- were in very short supply.

Next book Jason Epstein writes, maybe you could mention all that, so everyone can be reminded of who's in charge back there in the crystal (and apparently very fragile) canyons of Manhattan.PS --- Do you happen to know what became of young Jake? Was he sent to sell encyclopaedias door to door, like the van Doren boy? Or did he wind up kibbitzing in a kibbutz?

--- Sincerely,
Franny M.


I found your summation of Biro's book interesting.

I meet him last July at a Patient and Family Conference by Aplastic Anemia & MDS (Myelodysplastic Syndromes) International Foundation, Inc --- to be found at


I asked him if he felt he has "changed" any from his experience, and he said NO. He was nice, but still a little arrogant.

I am one living with PNH, with no option of a cure.

--- REBECCA270@aol.com
Rebecca Gaskin
PNH since 1997
Salem, Oregon

"Hard things are put in our way, not to stop us, but to call out our courage and strength."

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