Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Gallery of Regrettable Deja Vu

Yesterday morning I spent an hour waiting for my car to be inspected. Then I spent three more hours waiting for the car to be fixed so that it could pass inspection. Given all of this unexpected free time, I was able to not only finish the last sixty pages of the book that I had been reading, but I also read both Pittsburgh morning dailies front to back. One article in the Tribune-Review especially caught my eye: "Book examines food fiascoes from the '50s". Accompanying the article were pictures of alien gelatin molds and some indescribable concoction imprisoned within a wall of wieners. Great!, I thought, they are reviewing Lileks's The Gallery of Regrettable Food. Granted, the book is a few years old, but it still deserves plenty of attention. And this article did give it some attention.

However, it wasn't the focus of this article. And it wasn't the source of the photos. The article was about another book, Retro Food Fiascos by Kathy Casey. The Trib writer was nice enough to provide a link to Lileks's online Gallery, but there was no mention of it by the author of the new book. Did he inspire her? Had she even heard about his book before she published hers? The article does not say. Not having seen her book, I hesitate to accuse her of ripping him off. But really -- Lileks has said several times on his web site that he has put aside plan to publish books on certain topics after finding out that someone else had done it already. That's nice and respectful. It would have been nice if Kathy Casey had acknowledged Lileks one way or another -- but again, the Trib article does not indicate that she did.

But you know what? I am probably going to get this book. Whether I buy it, or receive it as a gift (as I did both Lileks books), it will end up in my personal possession. It looks too good to pass up. The whole "tacky food" genre looks promising, but someone needs to transcend gelatin molds and frankfurter fortresses and come up with something really unique. Otherwise, I am going to end up with a shelf full of Lileks wannabes.

(And yes, in case you noticed, the plural of fiasco is spelled differently in the book title than it is in the title of the article. For what it's worth, the Blogger spell checker recognizes neither.)

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