I was told there’d be cat photos

At a book party last night I witnessed what I’m tempted to call the New York media version of an Abbott and Costello routine — except it was an actual conversation, and I was a participant. Here’s how it went.

Critic: [Upon introduction.] Maud Newton… Wasn’t there a novel called that this year?

Me: I don’t think so.

Critic: Yes, I think there was a novel or something.

Friend: Are you thinking of Elizabeth Costello? Or some other book with a name for a title?

Critic: No, Maud. It’s such a common name now, all of a sudden. Recently I met a Rachel Maud. And Maud Newton, yes, it’s definitely a book.

Friend: Maybe you’re thinking of a blog?

Critic: [Pulls out phone.] Let me just check Amazon.

Me: I think I’d know if there was a novel called “Maud Newton.”

Journalist: Yes, I think she’d know.

Critic: No, I’m not finding anything. Let me put it in Google.

Me: Please don’t Google me right now.

Critic: N – E – W – T – O…

Me: Seriously, could you just not —

Critic: Oh, right, this is what I was thinking of: Maud Newton. Is this your website?

Me: Yes.

Critic: Is it a literary website?

Me: Well, sort of. People seem to think so.

Critic: Does it have a cat on it?

Me: No.

Friend: A cap?!

Critic: A cat.

Me: Not as far as I know.

Critic: Oh, I thought it had a cat.

And now it has two — Emily & Percy — so everybody’s happy.


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