Monday, August 20, 2007

Worst Lead of the Month

'I would like to get through this entire review without quoting Fitzgerald about the rich being different, though that line kept running through my head while I read “The House the Rockefellers Built: A Tale of Money, Taste, and Power in Twentieth-Century America.” Edith Wharton, with her mordant wit about the moneyed class to which she belonged, also waltzed through my mind. As it happens, in 1897, shortly before the Rockefellers began to plan their house, Kykuit, Wharton and her equally snobby architect friend, Ogden Codman Jr. — she called him Coddy, he called her Pus, and together they referred to themselves as Puscod ... yes, yuck — published a treatise on taste called “The Decoration of Houses.” (It has, by the way, recently been reissued to do yet another dutiful round for a generation of new money, insecure about how to spend it all.)'
--from a review in this week's New York Times book review of an interesting new book on the Rockefeller family's estate. We had one immediate question after reading this: was her editor on vacation? Perhaps the author of the review, the editor in chief of House and Garden, got a tad overexcited by the chance to write for a serious publication and forgot how to begin an article in a way that might cause someone to continue reading. The bar for good writing is apparently lower at the so-called "shelter magazines." But we found this lead paragraph simply awful on a number of levels--all tangled up in parentheticals and other non-essential information. We ordinarily like to call attention to the best leads, but after seeing this dreadful bit of writing, figured there are also some lessons to be learned from studying bad examples. Stay tuned for future Worst Leads. We're now on the lookout for them, thanks to Dominique, the doyenne of shelter magazines.


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