What Americans want to read

A thirtyish man approached the reference desk yesterday and held up two thrillers by Mary Higgins Clark and James Patterson, plucked from the "New Books" shelves. "Are these good?", he asked. I had earlier shown him where to apply for a library card.

"Well, they're okay," I replied, "what I call "airport fiction." His face fell a little. Oh God, now you've done it, I thought. He's come here on a mission to pick out some books for his wife or mother. I tried to recover. "They're fine. They're a lot of fun! People love them!", I chirped, approvingly. He seemed reassured, gave me a nod of thanks, and went down to check them out. Give me thirty whacks with a rolled-up copy of People Magazine.

I am blogging this after reading Keillor's hilarious column over breakfast, She saw her pale reflection in the window, in which he imagines himself murdered by both a thriller-reading "guy" and an English Department poetess:

"Read my book," the novelist said. "Are there breasts in it?" asked Brad. "Oh just grow up," the man sneered. He didn't notice Brad's left hand reaching under the workbench for the .357 Magnum he kept taped there for just this eventuality. "I'm a serious novelist," the man said quietly, "and I've won many awards." But those awards weren't going to save his skin from some serious perforation now. No, sir. BLAM BLAM BLAM.
I feel his pain.

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