Tuesday, May 23, 2006

USA Today Today

I like Miriam Engelberg. Which is good, since we seem to be in an arranged marriage neither of us volunteered for.

Miriam wrote a book titled Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person, released in April, which tells the story of her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment in comic form. Some journalists, including Liz Szabo of USA Today, have noted the coincidence of two cancer-themed graphic novels hitting the market around the same time. That makes it a trend, and journalists love to spot trends.

Miriam and me in USA Today, May 23.
Click on the picture to read the story.

Miriam and I made e-mail contact a while ago when one of the first such articles came out. We exchanged a couple of notes, commiserated over some shared frustrations, and basically said, "I guess we'll be seeing each other's names a lot in the next few months." She couldn't have been more friendly or personable. I liked her a lot.

I sometimes get comments from people expressing sympathy or frustration that I have to share my press with my competition. I don't see it like that. First, it's not "my" press in the first place. More likely, without Miriam's book many of the stories written about both of us wouldn't have been written at all. We get more attention together than either of us would alone.

Second, I don't consider her my competition. Her perspective, approach, writing voice, and drawing style are very different from mine (although it's interesting to see similarities where they occur as well). I suspect we attract different readers. Unfortunately, there's enough misery in the world for a multitude of takes on it. I'm not competing with Miriam; I'm competing with all the other ways people can spend $12.95.

So, while I probably wouldn't have chosen to have Miriam's book come out so soon after mine, I think it's working out fine. On balance, we're probably good for each other. I sincerely wish her and her book the best, and I look forward to treating her to lunch someday. We should have a lot to talk about.


Dave said...

Congrats, you got a bigger spread than Cooper!


NonAnon said...

You know, sometimes commiseration is the most valuable resource of all. I will have to try Miriam Engelberg's book as well now. Thanks for the recommendation.

patti digh said...

I was traveling last week and got a USA Today at my hotel room door - imagine my surprise when I saw the spread about your book...I am so pleased to hear about all your great news - congratulations!

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