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?
Critic: Is it a literary website?
Me: Well, sort of. People seem to think so.
Critic: Does it have a cat on it?
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.