Mortification: Writers' Stories of Their Public Shame
(Fourth Estate, 288 pages, $17.95)

Apparently, writers have massive egos. Who'd have thunk it? Poet Robin Robertson has collected this amusing – if wholly unnecessary – compendium of writers sharing tales of egos bruised and bloodied by public reaction (and nonreaction) to their work. More than a dozen estimable writers like Chuck Palahniuk, Margaret Atwood and Carl Hiaasen commiserate over readings/ appearances gone bad (or unattended). Were it not for their already well-documented writing abilities, these stories would all come off as irrepressibly pathetic. The beauty is that, despite the obvious irony of their inflated self-images – to think that we actually care about their reaction to our previous noncaring – these stories of nonhumbling humiliation are still filled with enough schadenfreude to make for a pleasant read.

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