Some Friendly Advice from Robert Olen Butler

A few days ago we posted a short blurb about Robert Olen Butler’s new novel, A Small Hotel, and suggested, based on some blogger’s speculation at the L.A. Times, that its content might resemble some of the lived circumstances the author encountered during a recent divorce. We found this short note from Butler in our inbox this morning:

Because I’m an admirer of your room220 blog, I feel I should give you some friendly advice.  That L. A. Times blogger is not a good model for you to follow.  Neither of you (she even admits it openly in her blog) has bothered to read my novel before suggesting it has parallels to my own recent divorce. Before yikesing you might try reading. There is not a single scintilla of similarity.  Just for the record.

Room 220 responds:

Mr. Butler,

First off, thanks for reading. I’m glad to count you among the seven people who follow Room 220. My mom, Wilbert Rideau, and a small cadre of devoted ex-girlfriends account for the others, I think.

But seriously, you’re right. I succumbed to the dumb Internet-age impulse of instantly and thoughtlessly reposting juicy gossip (though I’m sure you’re tired as hell of hearing about it by now, I didn’t even know about the divorce until I searched for information about your new book and the L.A. Times thing popped up). I’ve stooped as low as Gawker, which shames me to say.

I will take your advice and read before yikesing the next time such an opportunity arises. Retroactively, I’d like to read your new book and perhaps, if you’ll excuse our rocky introduction, do a Q&A with you about it for the site to help publicize your reading at the Garden District Book Shop September 15. I’ve been a fan of your work since I read Good Scent—you only hurt the ones you love, you know?—and it would be a pleasure.

Nathan C. Martin