Over time, Stephen Mitchelmore has proved himself to be what I've called him before: the finest writer we have in the literary blogosphere. Those who read his This Space blog are regularly treated to the most thoughtful meditations on literature and its troubled meanings. On Saturday, in the Guardian's From the Blogs column, Richard Lea misrepresented Stephen quite outrageously. Lea quoted a post disparaging Ian McEwan, allying it with a positive comment about McEwan from Book Dwarf, thus reversing Steve's negative appraisal. Either this was mendacious or idiotic on the part of Richard Lea. And I'd like him to tell us which it was: can he not read properly or was he being dishonest? It is surely one of the two. I know his colleagues at the Guardian read this blog, and I've regularly corresponded with Sarah Crown who usually composes From the Blogs. So, if Lea doesn't read this, she can pass the message on to him. I await his response.

Update: Richard Lea is away on holiday, but his colleague Sarah Crown has replied both to me personally and in the comments (below).

Readers Comments

  1. Hey Mark - I've sent you an email on this, but to explain to readers .. Richard's away on holiday until Thursday but will no doubt be on to respond then. In his absence, I'd say that I'm absolutely sure he had no intention of misrepresenting Stephen. Richard quoted the first line of Stephen's post in full - and as such Stephen's "breathless" can be misread as enthusiastic rather than ironic, but I think this is a case of incautious cutting, not dishonesty.

    A lesson well-learned for us, though - it's important to remember that while we see the posts in full, readers of the paper only get to see what we've extracted. Apologies to Stephen for any upset caused.

  2. Thanks for this comment Sarah. Very much appreciated.

  3. Thanks Mark, and Sarah for the apology. I was more bemused than offended. I can only hope some readers went to the blog to read the context of my remark.

  4. Hello all. Just to confirm that cutting was to blame for any misunderstanding. When I filed the piece I also included Stephen’s judgment that the extract is “cruel, prurient, patronising, glutinous and smug”. I guess the idea behind the cut was that the irony of Stephen’s “breathless enthusiasm” would shine through.

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