Those of us who are not actually threatened by the size of Dana Vachon's advance, who feel that he's the best pure writer to have emerged from the blogosphere, and who know him personally and find his affable Westchester goofiness adorable, have had a hard run of it lately. All the press about the Mergers & Acquisitions author makes him seem like such a douchebag. It would be kind of a miracle if it didn't: the Times "A Night Out With" feature and any appearance in New York magazine pretty much instantly confer douchebag status.
So it was especially hard to pick up today's Observer, in which Vachon gets that paper's Douchebag of the Week treatment. (He's now in the pantheon alongside the Berkelhammers and the Lalibertes!) Lizzy Ratner writes an incredibly dismissive profile, referring to him as Lit Boy and coming up with the phrase "B.B.F. (best blogger friend)" to describe his relationship with Elizabeth Spiers (Gawker founding etc.). Vachon certainly doesn't help his case by choosing to meet Ratner at Balthazar for breakfast (it's already been well established that only mammoth twunts brunch there.) And mentioning the Satyricon and Saul Bellow as influences, however appropriate, might be a little too sophisticated for Observer readers and writers. You know, God forbid a portrait of our new Gilded Age attempt to build on the classics that have come before. It's just so unseemly, especially for someone who used to write a blog. (Also, don't fuck up a Flaubert quote in front of the Observer; they do fact-check occasionally.)
Ratner brings out the knives early, noting that
minence douchebag grise Jay McInerney, who blurbed Mergers, has also blurbed Benjamin Kunkel, which confers double-douchebag-by-association status on Vachon. There's also a late hit, noting how goddamn good-looking he is and how his orthodontia is first rate (he's Marisha Pessl in a blazer!). The Catholic Vachon's "nose that stands in strong and pert salute to his resolutely nonethnic ancestry" is also appropriately lauded. Message received: not a serious writer! Still, we couldn't help but appreciate this:
[T]here is something tired in his tales of silicone-pumped trophy wives and smarmy banker-barons, an obviousness that gives his book the quality of one of the designer dresses that clutter his book: a piece of fine, even at times shimmery, fabric cut into a predictable shape.
Ah, got it. You're on the Observer's turf, Vachon. Back the fuck off, pretty boy.
Breakfast at Balthazar [NYO]