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Janet Maslin Unfriends Ben Mezrich

On July 24, whereupon the Internet first learned that Aaron Sorkin's screenplay for the upcoming Rudin-produced, Fincher-directed Facebook movie would be based on Ben Mezrich's new book on the founding of the social-networking site, some worried that Mezrich's history as a fabulist and total lack of access to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg might present a problem. And Janet Maslin's awesome, blistering review of The Accidental Billionaires in today's Times does not fill us with hope!

Writes Maslin:

[Mezrich] so enthusiastically favors hot air over specifics that he waits until the end of the book to offer up three little words that speak volumes about Mr. Zuckerberg’s Sphinx-like persona. However shy, vague, withdrawn, affectless and computerlike Mr. Zuckerberg is said by this book to be, he turns out to have business cards that say "I'm CEO — Bitch." That phrase outweighs all 258 pages of Mr. Mezrich's stalling. (The last two pages of this 260-page book are devoted to a list of published sources. Mr. Mezrich relied heavily on The Harvard Crimson.) [...] The Accidental Billionaires is so obviously dramatized, and so clearly unreliable, that there’s no mistaking it for a serious document.


But what's worse than a book about Mark Zuckerberg whose primary source is Eduardo Saverin, with whom Zuckerberg had a falling out and traded lawsuits? A book about Mark Zuckerberg filled with writing like this:

Mr. Mezrich churns up Mr. Zuckerberg's Eureka moments with such inadvertent hilarity that he uses the words "if Balzac had somehow risen from the dead," envisions Mr. Zuckerberg in a "James Bond-like lair," adds an imaginary couple’s sexual tryst to complicate Mr. Zuckerberg's surreptitious efforts to plug his computer cable into a port in a dimly lighted room, and describes the first flow of data as a whiz-bang movie scene full of animated special effects. Then he really hits for the bleachers with a few final flourishes about Mr. Zuckerberg. So: "We almost hear the James Bond theme running through the kid’s head." And when Mr. Zuckerberg leaves — after the lovers have scampered out of the dark room, laughing of course — we "imagine him noticing, as he goes, that the girl’s floral perfume still hangs, seductively, in the air."

The Times also excerpts the book's first chapter on its website today and, well, poor Aaron Sorkin might have his work cut out for him.

Harvard Pals Grow Rich: Chronicling Facebook Without Face Time [NYT]
First Chapter: ‘The Accidental Billionaires’ [NYT]

Photo: Courtesy of Doubleday