Tuesday, December 04, 2007


What is it-- this weird thing where one book leads to another. Would The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs and the Perverse Pleasure of Obituaries be the same book had I not just finished Villa Air-Bel? Two books which, you would think, would not be so blatantly linked, but aren't books surprising?

Villa Air-Bel
opens with Lisa Fittko (who I'd never heard of before) guiding Walter Benjamin out of France, over the mountains into Spain. And then she turns up again in The Dead Beat page 50: "Douglas Martin's vivid obit on Lisa Fittko, a World War II heroine who smuggled numerous people out of Europe, appeared nine days after her death because... "You can't know all this stuff. That whole period is extremely vague. There are people who will tell you they did this, that, and the other thing, and Doug took days to separate the wheat from the chaff. The Chicago Tribune ran an obit that then had to be corrected extensively because it was all "ucked fup," as they say in the business." Though Fittko's obit weaves together multiple stories and locations and mentions more than a dozen names, one peripheral name had to be correct the next day; an s had been mistakenly tacked onto a French surname."

What are the odds, I wonder?