This blog comes courtesy of Lindsay, who both blogs more often than I do and is almost certainly going to become the next E.L James, what with her (I assume) borderline filthy historical romance skills. I hope to one day ride her coattails.
The term is Literary Speed Dating and according to this article in The Independent it's inspired by both a love of books and a love of, uh, what I guess can only be termed public transport eye-fucking:
"You are sitting on a train, and across the aisle someone is reading one of your favourite books. This person (clearly of taste) happens to be a tall, handsome man. As you stare he looks up, catches your eye and smiles – he asks for your number... Browsing in a bookshop you reach out to pick up a book; so does the person standing next to you. The person happens to be a tall, handsome man. He catches your eye and smiles – he asks if you would like to go for coffee... So run the fantasies of many a book-lover."
The idea is a neat one: speed-dating but where everyone brings his or her favourite books. The problem, as Lindsay has already pointed, out, is what fucking book to bring. Of my Probably Top Five Books (The Great Gatsby, The End of the Affair, The Virgin Suicides, The Long Goodbye and Madame Depardieu and the Beautiful Strangers) the first two options make me seem like the pretentious douche I am and the third like I maybe possibly sometimes cut myself. Chandler is a possibility but seems just a bit too obvious, while the Quirke will reveal me as a sad, sad case right about the point at which I have to explain what it's about: "The author... she crushes on movie stars and... writes about them".
Worse than that, I've been sitting here for 10 minutes trying to think of the perfect book a guy could bring to make me go weak at the knees and I've come up with nothing. Okay, well actually I came up with Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty but then I decided that would probably make me worry he was deeply closeted and hoped to use me as his beard. Although, don't get me wrong, that is a great book. Far longer is the list of Books I Would Consider A Massive Turn Off, which goes something like this:
Anything by Marcel Proust
Massive wanker, even if Swann's Way is genuinely his favourite book. Especially if that's genuinely his favourite book.
Anything by James Joyce
Anything by Jodi Picoult.
Bring Proust and JJ and you're trying too hard. Bring Picoult and you're not trying hard enough. Seriously.
Tess of the D'urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
I don't mind a bit of Thomas Hardy, by which I mean I thought The Mayor of Casterbridge and Jude the Obscure were both rather good. But Tess. I mean Tess! I fucking hate Tess, both the book and the character. Accordingly I am deeply suspicious about what a love of this book says about a man's attitudes towards women.
Lance Armstrong, It's Not About the Bike
This isn't a half bad book really but the kind of person who loves sports biographies is the kind of person who, at some point in your life together, will try to make you watch sport. Which... no.
Anything from Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant Series
This is unfair because SD is very good and TC a very cool and original creation. That much said, it's still a series of books about a rapist leper so... you know.
I could go on - you really want to hear me explain why Paolo Maurensig's The Luneberg Variation is a superior choice to Nabokov's The Defence (if you MUST bring a chess book) but it's Saturday night, I have the house to myself and I have a very trashy book to be reading. The sort of thing, clearly, that would see me harshly judged if I dared to drag it along to a bout of literary speed dating. That much said, the kind of man who would appreciate said book would be, phew, a fucking keeper.
UPDATED: Because apparently I can't tell Lance Armstrong and Cadel Evans apart. Even though one is an Aussie and the other only has one ball.