Can Spite Be a Force For Good?

That’s one of the arguments in Simon McCarthy-Jones’s “Spite,” which Sarah Lyall in her review calls “a highly entertaining book that should be read more as an illuminating examination of an under-discussed topic than as a prescription for how to behave.”

‘Spite’ Looks on the Bright Side of a Dark Feeling

BY SARAH LYALL in NY TIMES: A recent viral YouTube video shows a woman’s epic struggle to parallel park her car. She approaches from behind; she approaches from the front; she tries again, fails again; she gets out and attempts to measure the space with her feet. Finally, a good Samaritan steps in, shouting encouragement and motivational remarks while patiently directing her into the spot.

The shock comes at the end. Having concluded her good deed, the Samaritan gets into her own car — which is parked directly behind the woman’s car, meaning it was the main impediment to the woman’s parking efforts in the first place — and merrily drives off.

I thought about this possibly diabolical pedestrian as I read Simon McCarthy-Jones’s “Spite,” which sets out to explore and perhaps rehabilitate this usually unattractive human emotion. He provides theoretical scenarios as a way to help you gauge your own degree of spitefulness, should any of them ring a bell. More here…