A literary blind item in the New York Times? Yes! Buried in novelist Margo Rabb's NYT Sunday Book Review essay about increases in shoplifting at bookstores is an anecdote about an unnamed author who jacked his own product from one.
WHO could this possibly BE?
At Boulder Book Store in Boulder, Colo., one writer was even busted stealing his own books. Christopher Ohman, who was a manager at the time, said: "I think he felt somewhat entitled to the copies. In some ways I can kind of understand that logic. I mean, it's a commonly held misconception that authors get as many copies of their books as they want, and that's not always the case." (Ohman conceded that the author's alcohol problem may also have had something to do with it.)
I have two suspects.
1. Jon Krakauer: Honestly, I don't think Jon Krakauer is a drunk, but he does live in Boulder, and that whole beardy Into The Wild ethos might've taken ahold of him one day.
2. Jello Biafra (ne Eric Reed Boucher): Jello Biafra is the lead singer of the Dead Kennedys, and his parents live in Boulder. I'm not sure if he's a drunk either but it's definitely punk as fuck to steal your own book and subvert the system or whatever, so maybe he needed a last minute present.
So! We ask that whoever stole their own book or workers of the bookstore or SOMEBODY please come forward and tell us who the drunk writer was that stole his own book. Or at least give us a clue as to which whimsical Boulder scalawags may or may not be on book-stealing-benders these days. Because I'd like to know.
As for Ms. Rabb's essay, all you need to know is this:
Although there's no hard statistical evidence on most-stolen titles, The Telegraph of London reported last year that Jeffrey Eugenides's novel "The Virgin Suicides" was said to be "the most shoplifted book of modern times." Eugenides had heard this for many years. "I just assumed that the book appealed to the young and sticky-fingered to a certain extent," he told me, with some amusement. Years ago, Eugenides was at a literary conference with Paul Auster, another top choice among literary thieves. "Paul and I argued about whose book was stolen more," Eugenides said. "He claimed he was stolen a lot, I claimed I was stolen a lot. Back and forth. It was one of those deep intellectual conversations."
The punishment for stealing either of these guys' books is that you have to read them. Or be 17 again. But be the kind of 17 year-old who steals these books.