Archive for August 21st, 2010

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s book

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Wow.  How weird is this?

Imagine going home to Brooklyn Heights,  or catching the G train at Clinton-Washington, or waiting in the subway station near Times Square, or on the long bus ride up to visit the Cloisters.  You are quietly minding your own business.

You attract the stares of a nearby, shleppy fellow traveler with slightly crazy eyes.  Is it a pickpocket?  A mugger?  A masher?

It’s not you he’s after.  It’s your book.

Here’s how the website CoverSpy explains itself:  “A team of publishing nerds hits the subways, streets, parks & bars to find out what New Yorkers are reading now.

Yesterday, a teacher in her thirties was going over her lesson plans at the Housing Works bookstore.  She’s reading the Tobias Wolff collection (left). The moment immortalized on the worldwide web!

Today, a 20-something woman wearing ear-pad headphones at the Carroll Street station reads about Marilyn Monroe (right).  Captured!

It goes on and on — and the Twitter feed is, if you absolutely must know the latest in what other people are reading right now, now, now.  Kind of like watching other people eating, innit?

Thanks, Andrew Herkovic, for this tip.  Whew!  Who knew 21st century life would get so strange, so fast?

Namaste, Mark Twain.

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Land of Twain?


Just ran into Shelley Fisher Fishkin at, of all places, the manicurist’s.  She was preparing for an upcoming trip to India to talk about Mark Twain. It’s all part of the the much-ballyhooed Twain centenary.  Get this:  Her tour is being funded by the State Department.  Apparently the American government has an investment in making sure Asians have a good grounding in Twain.  She’ll be visiting Hyderabad, Delhi, Lucknow, Calcutta, and I can’t remember where else.  Bon voyage, Shelley.  May Ganesh be with you.