Glenn Beck is not responding well to the (well-deserved) criticism of his profoundly terrible new novel, The Overton Window. Beck is particularly piqued at Washington Post book critic Steven Levingston's brutal review, which declared that the "silly" language of the book exceeded the "often laughable prose" found in the thriller genre. What truly irked Beck, however, was Levingston's observation that some "radical readers may take the story's fiction for fact," and that the book is "an extended call to arms, a rallying cry to [Beck's] foot soldiers long stirred by his rantings on Fox News."
Since then, the two have been engaged in a somewhat heated back and forth. Last night on his Facebook page, Beck took things in a slightly more personal direction, writing that he feels "pretty bad" for Levingston, who Beck claims "soooo clearly wants to be an author, but, it seems, he just doesn't have the talent."
As with The Overton Window, this line is stuffed with unintentional hilarity.
While I'm no big fan of Glenn Beck, I would not suggest that he is completely untalented. He has a unique gift for self-promotion and demagoguery, having built a massive media empire on the back of his frequently false, outlandish conspiracy theories. However, "novelist" is not among Beck's talents.
First of all, Beck's presumption of his own talent is belied by the fact that he required three different "contributors" to do the actual writing of his novel. As we detailed earlier this week, Beck explained that there was "no way" that he was going to actually sit "behind a typewriter" and write the book, so "contributor" Jack Henderson "went in" and "put the words down." Fellow contributor Kevin Balfe had the task of turning Beck's "vision" into something that sounds "good to read in that format," by using what he described as "the right thriller technique." So how did this novel-by-committee approach work? Poorly.
But don't just take our word for it (though for the record we found the novel to be "truly and remarkably awful," and, worse still, painfully boring). Reviews from major media outlets have been scarce, but those that have weighed in have not been kind. In addition to Levingston's WaPo criticisms, Time's Alex Altman labeled the book a "plodding read" with a "half-baked plot," and noted that Beck "doesn't have the writing chops to carry skeptics through the sermonizing."
In fact, the only positive media reaction we've seen for The Overton Window was from Mediaite, whose review came on the heels of Steve Krakauer's embarrassingly sycophantic "exclusive interview" with Beck, which Salon's Alex Pareene did a great job of demolishing:
Glenn Beck's political thriller, "The Overton Window," is out today. The reviews, so far, are not particularly kind. With one exception! That exception: a website that also happened to get an exclusive interview with Beck himself.
Mediaite is the media website launched by Dan Abrams, the media consulting company CEO and, in Keith Olbermann's words, "fired MSNBC employee" (who is still, for some reason, NBC's legal analyst). So congrats, Dan -- Glenn Beck likes your media website. The experiment worked! All you had to do to get an exclusive with a major best-selling author was just not be in any way critical, at all, of his terrible book. At least that's the way this all looks.
So keep dreaming, Mr. Levingston. You can never hope to churn out an embarrassingly awful novel with the help of three contributors doing all the work.
You just don't have the "talent."