Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Elinor Lipman (Almost) Sent Me a Direct Message on Twitter

Elinor Lipman is a writer I’ve loved for a long time.  She writes comedies of manners that are at once gentle, scathing, and hilarious, among them THEN SHE FOUND ME, ISABEL’S BED, THE INN AT LAKE DIVINE, THE WAY MEN ACT, and THE PURSUIT OF ALICE THRIFT. She is a Jewish Jane Austen (the author with whom she is most often compared), an astute observer of modern experience and sensibility.

I’ve read most of her books.  I’ve gone to several of her readings.  And I follow her on Twitter.  She is, in fact, one of the few celebrities I follow, along with several other authors, Lena Dunham, and a couple of reality TV housewives who don’t yell too much.  I’m not sure if Elinor Lipman thinks of herself as a celebrity—I’m willing to bet that she doesn’t—but I have decided that as one of my favorite contemporary writers, she qualifies, whether she likes it or not.

So you can imagine how I felt when I woke up yesterday morning, checked my e-mail, and came across the subject line reading “Elinor Lipman Sent You a Direct Message on Twitter.”  It was comparable to the way my daughter would feel if she were sitting at a bar and Benedict Cumberbatch sidled over and asked if he could buy her a drink.

Delirious.  I was delirious.

My fingers shaking, I opened the e-mail.  In the split second that elapsed before it appeared on-screen, I tried to imagine what Elinor Lipman could possibly want to talk to me about.  I teased myself with various scenarios: she had stumbled on my blog and wanted to let me know that my musings mirrored her own.  Perhaps she was a closet middle-grade fiction reader who had come across PRETTIEST DOLL and THE HARD KIND OF PROMISE and just had to tell me how compelling she found them.  Or maybe she had just laughed at one of my tweets.  Not as exciting as the prospect of being able to discuss literary craft, but then, who was I to complain?  The important thing—the thrilling thing—was that Elinor was reaching out to me.

And then, I read the text of her e-mail: “Someone is starting a rumor about you,” it read, followed by a link.

Technologically naïve, I nonetheless realized it was highly improbable that anyone would be starting rumors about me likely to have commanded Elinor Lipman’s attention.  I reluctantly deleted the e-mail without opening the link.  To be sure, I checked my Twitter feed. Moments before, Elinor had indeed tweeted that she had been hacked, and that she was sorry.

I thought about it all morning: my excitement, followed almost immediately by disappointment and a return to the gloomy state of being entirely unknown to Elinor Lipman.  I cheered myself with the realization that if I was ecstatic at the possibility of direct contact with a writer I love, then surely others feel the same way.   I allowed myself to imagine all the readers on Twitter searching out their favorite authors, scanning their feeds each morning, hoping for the tenuous sense of connection that a tweet provides.  And that struck me as an encouraging, even a glorious state of affairs.

A nice way to start the week.

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