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McLaren vs. Bigge: Round 2

Here at In Other Media, controversy makes us as giddy as the recipients of brand new puppies on Valentine’s Day morning. In the last month or so, we linked to as many stories on James Frey as there were alleged lies in his book A Million Little Pieces. Now, on this side of the border, we have a little bookish hilarity to call our own.

Yesterday, we linked to a review in the Sunday Toronto Star in which writer and reviewer Ryan Bigge scoured the English and German lexicons for words to describe just how bad he thought Leah McLaren’s debut novel, The Continuity Girl, was. Today we combed the archives to find the article that may have started it all: a column featured in The Globe and Mail in 2001, written by one Ms. McLaren about Bigge’s debut, A Very Lonely Planet: Love, Sex and the Single Guy. Like Bigge did in his review of The Continuity Girl, McLaren chose not to review the book so much as defame its writer. To this end, McLaren used more than half of her column to define a term that she coined and that no one ever used again. Lurpers, she writes, are the angry young men of the 21st century – cynics who have a hate-on for all that they don’t have but secretly want: “success, confidence, fame, money, sex, charm, recognition, art, conversational ease, style, respect, drugs, a sense of wonder…. He is Holden Caulfield 10 years later, a grown boy, who in the words of Philip Roth, approaches life ‘with all the arrogance of someone who has succeeded at nothing.'”

“Like so many Lurpers, Bigge is an established legend in his own mind. He even has his own Web site to prove it. His first book, A Very Lonely Planet: Love, Sex and the Single Guy, will be published by Vancouver small press Arsenal Pulp this month. The title could actually be Anatomy of a Hard-up Lurper.”

Ouch. From whence comes such a personal attack? Do these two know each other? Couldn’t McLaren, who has now written of a childless woman, have had sympathy instead of vitriol for the perpetually single Bigge? One thing seems clear: riffling through the discount tables at Pages the other day, In Other Media found copies of Bigge’s book. We can all be somewhat sure that, someday, in that very same spot, will be McLaren’s. So can’t we all just get along?

Related links:
Click here for McLaren’s review of A Very Lonely Planet, as featured on Bigge’s website
Click here to read comments posted in response to yesterday’s installment of the McLaren-Bigge feud