The Huffington Post just published another entertaining Bookstore Bingo of actual, amusing things people overhear customers say in bookstores (Walmart couldn't be as funny, could it?).
But customers aren't the only ones who get things wrong in bookstores. Over the years, my name has been mangled by more than one bookstore employee introducing me at a reading or signing. So I've sometimes been Lev "Raffle" and Lev "Rafeel."
And when I toured extensively for my first book of short stories, its title was a landmine waiting to go off.
I had published the title story Dancing on Tisha B'Av in the anthology Men on Men 2 a few years earlier and chose that for the book because the story had generated a lot of attention from reviewers, plus it made it very clear that there was strong Jewish content to the collection.
Tisha B'Av is literally the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av and it memorializes the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 by the Romans. It's obviously not a day for dancing, but that happens in the story about a young woman professor coming to terms with her brother being gay.
I wasn't prepared for all the versions of the book's title I would hear on tour. Instead of asking me for help, some people went ahead and tried their best to make sense of the unfamiliar wording, so one bookstore publicist called it Dancing on Tisha B'Avenue. It was also scenically dubbed Dancing on Tisha Bay and the peninsular Dancing on Tisha Baja. I was introduced as having authored Dancing on Trisha B'Av (whoever she was) and Dancing on Toshiba back when people still thought Japan was going to buy up the whole country. The most creative version was Dancing on the Tissue Box.
After all these incidents, I decided my next book title would be easy to pronounce. My first novel, recently reissued, was the simple Winter Eyes.
I wasn't prepared when more than one book seller told me a customer had asked about "Lev Raphael's book on cars or something."