17 Jul 2013

Dustjacket Dating

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New Yorker cover, November 8, 2004.

Elyse Moody offers a literary alternative to Missed Connections.

ve been asking myself some basic questions: What do I like? Reading. What am I looking for in a date? Someone who enjoys books and talking about them, and who can strike up good conversations with strangers. An idea started to gel. Maybe if I’m choosy about what I read on my longish interborough commute, the right guy—one with superlative taste who’s curious enough to make a move—will be drawn to me by the tractor beam the open book in my hands emits.

I ran this idea by my therapist, and she started nodding excitedly. “Books are such a great crutch,” she said. “I think of them like props.”


So this strategy’s been clinically endorsed. I’ve reviewed my journals, made a list of the most attractive qualities of potential soul mates past (setting aside their less desirable traits—e.g., substance addiction, monomaniacal narcissism, commitment phobia), and distilled it into archetypes of the charming men I hope to meet, if fate wills it, somewhere in the New York City public transit system.

Her choice of lures, however, struck me as far from the most interesting or effective, especially if you desire to strike up an acquaintance with “Ivy League smart” males. I think of Saul Bellow myself as an over-rated, excessively promoted ethnic writer. If I saw a girl reading Tom Robbins, I would shudder and walk quietly away. Eudora Welty is a representative of the grotesque-and-invariably-depressing school of Southern writing, and the sight of her dustjackets will probably work on most men in a decidedly anaphrodisaical manner.

3 Feedbacks on "Dustjacket Dating"


A woman reading Evelyn Waugh would be very hot – or perhaps Simon Raven…

Fred Z

Sure, her book, that’s what I look at most carefully when I see a nice looking woman.


Don’t ride the DC subway anymore but used to be surprised to see quite a few women reading Tom Clancy.

You’re on target about Bellow. He writes novels about Jewish intellectuals for Jewish intellectuals.


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