Jonah Lehrer is back to making everyone angry at him now that The New York Times's Julie Bosman has uncovered A Book About Love, the proposal for Lehrer's comeback effort in which, it appears, he will use the scandal that made him a journalistic pariah to make an argument about... love.
Slate reported Tuesday that Lehrer was shopping a book, and Bosman got a copy of the 65-page proposal, which she writes is "heavily-footnoted." Bosman explains that in the proposal Lehrer "outlines a book with a style that resembles the pop-science titles that helped make him famous," and excerpts passages, including one in which Lehrer describes his reaction to having his sin of fabrication discovered. "I puke into a recycling bin," he writes. "And then I start to cry. Why was I crying? I had been caught in a lie, a desperate attempt to conceal my mistakes. And now it was clear that, within 24 hours, my fall would begin. I would lose my job and my reputation. My private shame would become public."
But, of course, this is all somehow relevant to Lehrer's book, as he also writes: "Careers fall apart; homes fall down; we give away what we don't want and sell what we can’t afford...And yet, if we are lucky, such losses reveal what remains. When we are stripped of what we wanted, we see what we will always need: Those people who love us, even after the fall."
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And, of course, the Internet had a field day Thursday afternoon, reacting to the irony that Lehrer is making his failings oh so marketable. Lehrer, if you had forgotten, resigned from The New Yorker last July after it was revealed that he made up quotes from Bob Dylan in his book Imagine: How Creativity Works. Earlier that year he had been caught reusing material in various publications. In the proposal, according to Bosman, he writes: "This book is about what has lasted in my own life," adding: "I wanted to write it down so that I would not forget; so that, one day, I might tell my young daughter what I’ve learned." Which begs the question: Why try to sell it? To some, it's a slap in the face:
"No Seriously, Fuck You Guys", a new book coming from Jonah Lehrer in 2014.— Dana Vachon (@danavachon) June 6, 2013
To others, the proposal seems trite:
“When we're stripped of what we wanted, we see what we need”: I think Lehrer plagiarized from a yoga studio website? nyti.ms/15EK73z— Juli Weiner (@juliweiner) June 6, 2013
Just wait until the 80,000-word book gets out.