It started out small, the second of two seemingly mundane corrections:
That’s what appeared in yesterday’s Boston Globe.
Here’s what appeared in today’s Boston Herald, compliments of the Track Gals (and Megan!):
Bestselling Boston writer Dennis Lehane blasted the Globe yesterday, saying the Boring Broadsheet called him racist in a Sunday book review. Trouble is, the “Magical Negro” character that the Globe reviewer claimed Lehane created in his new book is white!
“Accusing a writer of engaging in racial stereotypes is accusing a writer of racism,” Lehane told the Track. “That’s not something you should do casually or without your doing your homework. To call me out for creating a racist stereotype of an African-American character when that character is, in fact, Caucasian is offensive on a multitude of levels.”
The reviewer, Eugenia Williamson, wrote this according to the Globe’s website:
The novel’s flaws converge during a stunningly embarrassing scene in which Joe meets a character named Turner John, a wise yet humble bootlegger and self-described “champeen in the snoring.” Although Joe’s been sent to put a hit on him, instead Turner John tugs at his heart strings with a soliloquy written in dialect: “I had me a fine daddy. Only beat me hard when I had it coming and never when he’d taken to drink,” he says. “You want my money, Mr. Coughlin? Well then you best set to working with me and my boys on the mash and helping us work our farm, till the soil, rotate the crops, milk the cows. You follow?” Does Joe kill Turner John or make his father proud? You decide.
Except that’s not all she wrote. The Globe has removed her references to Turner John as “what Spike Lee would call a magical Negro” and an “African-American bootlegger.”
Except he’s not.
Lehane’s pretty lathered up about this, calling the correction a “pseudo retraction” and telling the Track “For (Globe editor) Marty Baron, (book editor) Nicole Lamy or the reviewer to then not have the simple decency to contact me and say, ‘Sorry we implied you were a racist, Dennis,’ shows a serious lack of class on their part.”
Eric Randall at Boston magazine’s Boston Daily blog has a smart follow-up:
Dennis Lehane got so angry at a Globe review of his new book Live By Night that accused him of creating a stereotypical “Magical Negro” character, that he learned to use Facebook so he could turn the tables and call the review racist. And not because he says his character isn’t an African American stereotype but because he says his character isn’t an African-American at all. Well played, Lehane.
Randall also includes a link to Lehane’s Facebook page.
Go, baby, go.