Alan Levy? Ron Wellburn? Richard Hofstadter? Christopher Lehmann-Haupt? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: A clique can form around a cultural organization or periodical and transform it into an insular mutual admiration society. Detractors of “The New York Review of Books” have given the journal the following nickname:
The New York Review of Each Other’s Books
Would you please explore the provenance of this expression?
Quote Investigator: “The New York Review of Books” published its first issue in 1963. The earliest match located by QI appeared in a 1968 book about merchandising culture titled “The Culture Vultures; or, Whatever Became of the Emperor’s New Clothes?” by Alan Levy. Boldface added to excerpt by QI: 1
The frighteningly articulate house organ of a self-promoting Manhattan coterie, it could easily be renamed the New York Review of Each Other’s Books. And like many people who have chosen to dwell intimately with the printed word, the New York Review clique maintains a love-hate relationship with the art it serves. Hate often seems to be getting the better of it.
Based on the above citation QI tentatively credits Alan Levy with coining this barbed expression.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1968, The Culture Vultures; Or, Whatever Became of the Emperor’s New Clothes? by Alan Levy, Part 2: The Careerists, Chapter 5: Corruption of the Instinct: The Critics, Quote Page 184, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York. (Verified with scans) ↩