Joan Rivers and Me

I was on the stationary bike at my local gym, when the TV screen in front of me flashed an intriguing message: “POLICE WERE CALLED TO A L.A. STORE WHEN JOAN RIVERS HANDCUFFED HERSELF TO A SHOPPING CART.”

I should explain that the bank of TV sets at the gym produces some of the most amazing daytime programs, so that I regularly return home with breathless news about what Dr. Oz has discovered about pills to prevent cancer, or the special melons from the south of France that prevent Cindy Crawford’s face from aging, and much else. It’s a different world out there.

But now this, about Joan Rivers!

I have never met Joan Rivers, and if we did meet I suspect that we would not agree on many things, especially around the area of cosmetic surgery. And while she does not play a regular role in my imaginative life, the “handcuffed to a shopping cart” story certainly caught my eye.

Soon the second shoe dropped. The follow-up line came five minutes later. “SHE IS PROTESTING COSTCO’S FAILURE TO STOCK HER BOOK.”

Aha! The shopping cart ruse was not a stupid tantrum thrown by a never-was celebrity. It was an act of literary defiance by an author spurned. The people at Costco, you see, do not stock many titles, and work hard to screen out books of literary merit. They, and presumably their customers, want only popular blockbusters by established authors (or, to be fair, flavour-of-the-month newbies). And their choices run heavily to big novels, and self-help books, and books by show biz celebrities like . . . well, when you come to think of it, like Joan Rivers.

Another Aha moment! If you are Joan Rivers, and used to seeing banks of your latest artistic creation displayed in the book section at Costco, it must be a terrible moment of  betrayal to find that Costco has decided to take a pass on your new “book.”

So I, and all authors with a new book fighting for space out there, share a moment (a very, very brief moment) of sympathy for the spurned author who decided to make her disappointment known. Few of us, however, would think of handcuffing ourselves to  a shopping cart. Joan Rivers wins on imagination there, hands down, as it were.

I hope that she runs up against a judge with equal imagination who is aware that by causing this fuss Joan Rivers has let millions of people know that she has a new book out there. Ideally, Ms. Rivers would be compelled to remain handcuffed to the cart 24 hours a day for six months. That would be the perfect sentence . . . not a phrase usually associated with the books of Joan Rivers.