Getting Noticed

Yes, David Gilmour is a douche. But can you name any other literature prof that people not in academia know by name? Harold Bloom? This just proves my point, which is that nobody notices our existence unless we go completely batty in a very public way.

Can You Steal the “Idea” Behind a Novel?

Kate Losse, the author of last year’s Boy Kings, which outlined the early culture at Facebook from her experiences as employee #51, has accused Dave Eggers of stealing her book idea for his forthcoming novel The Circle. “Dave Eggers decided to rewrite my book as his own novel about a young woman working her way up through Facebook,” she writes on Medium today.

I find the suggestion that one can steal “the idea” behind a novel to be completely bizarre. It is even more ridiculous when the Big Idea in question is the hugely original “a person is excited to get a prestigious job at a huge company until she realizes that the way the company does business is suspect.” Wasn’t there a movie starring Tom Cruise based on the same Big Idea sometime back in the 80s?

The main philosophical issue both books claim to address is the eminently boring,

Would Facebook improve our social interactions?

I have almost died of boredom by the time I finished reading just this one sentence. The author of the earlier book seems convinced that she came up with something hugely original when she addressed this question in her writing but people have been bellyaching about the evils of Facebook for years.

Of course, the funniest part of the whole brouhaha is the following:

“From all appearances, it is the same book, and I wrote it first (and I imagine mine is more authentic and better written, because I actually lived in this world and am also a good writer),” she adds. Losse, in an email to The Atlantic Wire, admits she has not read his book.

Not reading a book is definitely an inventive way of engaging with its content. At least this Losse character is original in something.

At the Pharmacy

Last night, I had to go to the pharmacy. I’d been avoiding all places where I was likely to run into people who might ask questions or offer congratulations, and the pharmacy was one of such places. The doctor gave me a prescription for new contraceptive pills, so I couldn’t keep hiding at home any longer. Of course, I could have changed my pharmacy. But that would lead to changing the grocery store, the coffee-shop, the convenience store, the favorite restaurant, the walking route. . . and that way lies insanity.

The pharmacist was on the phone when I approached the counter. She reached into the box with my name (in the course of this pregnancy, I had been assigned a box all to myself at the pharmacy) and got out the pills.

“Wait, this must be a mistake,” the pharmacist said. “These can’t be yours.”

“Yes, they are mine,” I responded.

The pharmacist tried to peer over the tall counter.

“Wait, have you given birth already?” she asked eagerly.

So I told her.

She dropped the phone and stared at me. Then her face crumpled and she grabbed me across the counter and pressed me to her chest.

“This happened to me, too,” the pharmacist sobbed. “It’s been almost 30 years but it never goes away.”

As I walked away, I heard her sobbing and wheezing.