Since time out of mind, biographical sketches of authors have appeared on the inside back flap of book jackets: what they have written, what they have done, marital status and number of kids, where they live. In recent years, I have noticed the exceedingly odd custom of including, and enumerating, pets and animals.
This week, for example, Germaine Greer's new book about Ann Hathaway Shakespeare, "Shakespeare's Wife," has arrived. With no prejudice against author or book, which I have not read, I nonetheless register my puzzlement at the last sentence of the flap copy: "She lives in northwest Essex [England] with two dogs, thirteen geese, and a fluctuating number of doves." Rummaging through the book pile this morning, I also find a novel called "Ellington Boulevard," by Adam Langer, who, we are told, "lives on Manhattan's Duke Ellington Boulevard with his wife, daughter, dog, and a pair of pigeons who roost on his air conditioner."
If I ever publish a novel, I think I will write on the flap copy, "He lives near Boston with his wife, several grudges, various demons, six mice in the wall behind the cupboard, and an undetermined number of eyelash mites."