01 February 2017

All about me me me, not really

by Robert Lopresti

"A writer who claims to have a small ego is either not telling the truth, or lying." -William DeAndrea

In December John Floyd wrote a piece here about twenty years of Best American Mystery Stories and I was honored to get a mention.  But there was something in the comments that surprised me: several writers said they had not known they had been mentioned in the Distinguished Lists at the end of the book until John told them.

Not the case for me.  I doubt there has been a best-of-the-year mystery collection published in the last three decades that I haven't scoured for my name. This may be in part because my third published story, the first in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, found its way into the Honor Roll at the back of one of Edward D. Hoch's best-of-the-year collection, back in the days of hoop skirts and buggy whips.  James L. Swain, in one of his excellent mystery novels about a gambling consultant, says that the worst thing that can happen to a person in a casino is to win the first time they play, because it gets you hooked. So I am an innocent victim.

But I have not seen my name in such a book again until BAMS 2015 when I made the distinguished list, and then hit the big time in 2016.  It may be another few decades for anything like that happens again.

Of course, there are other ways to feed the  habit.  How often do you vanity-Google yourself?  Most writers I know do it, but they tend to feel guilty about it.  Nice to see if anyone is talking about you.  (Or not nice, depending on what they say.)

Sometimes I type in my name and the title of one of my books or stories to see if someone has said anything about them. Occasionally I have found that someone put up a copy of one of my stories on the web illegally.  That's always fun.

But what I am interested in today is people who show up who aren't me.  I'm not talking about identity fraud, but other people with my name.

For instance, there is a psychologist in my home state of New Jersey who probably wishes I had a different name or hadn't gone into writing, since our identities get tangled on the web.  He spells LoPresti with a capital P but Google doesn't recognize that as a difference.

And Google can also show you a striking mug shot of a guy with my name in Florida.  I'm not going to put it here though.

Oddly enough I have been Tuckerized occasionally, although I assume it was an accident.  "Tuckerizing" is when you put a person's name in your book, usually because they bought the rights with a donation to charity.

For example, my name appears in Robert B. Parker's Killing the Blues, a novel by Michael Brandman about Parker's character Jesse Stone.  I don't know Mr. Brandman and assume he picked my name at random, but it's freaky to read about myself being, for example, handcuffed and unconscious.  (That hasn't happened in years.)

And in Bye the Book, a medical thriller by Frank Caceres, I show up behind bars as a murder suspect. Again, I don't know the author.

Someday I will have to read these books and find out what happens to me.  I hope I'm okay.

When I first moved to this part of the world people would ask me if I was related to the local sports writer Mike Lopresti.  I explained that I wasn't related and that he wasn't local; hje just worked for the chain that owned our local newspaper.

And then there is Phil LoPresti who started the LoPresti Aviation Company.  A lot of people have nice things to say about his airplanes.

But the reason I am dragging this out is to tell you this.  I have a nonfiction book coming out later this year entitled When Women Didn't Count (more about that closer to publication date).  I needed to send someone a link to the publisher's pre-pub page so I went to Google and typed in: Lopresti Women.  And what popped up first were a lot of pages like the one on the right. Aaron Lopresti, comic book artist, may be the most famous of my namesakes.  And no, we aren't related either. 



16 comments:

Paul D. Marks said...

Congratulations on your BAMS triumph. But now, will the Real Rob Lopresti please stand up.

O'Neil De Noux said...

Nice article. Makes me think. Good.

Michael Bracken said...

I, too, scour the best-of anthologies to see if I've been mentioned, and have for a great many years. I also vanity-Google myself, and I don't feel guilty about it. Information gleaned from both sources can be used in cover letters, author bios, and general publicity.

By vanity-Googling myself, I occasionally cross paths with people from the past who mention me for whatever reason, or I'm mentioned because of something I wrote or something I did. Sometimes I respond and reconnect or am able to add to or correct the historical record.

And, like you, I've found that I share my name with a great many people, such as Mike Bracken (the horror geek on a long ago game show); Michael Bracken, who wrote a book about baseball; and Michael B. Bracken, a perinatal epidemiologist who researches and writes articles and medical books and who, coincidentally, also has gray hair, a beard, and wears glasses).

Art Taylor said...

Nice post here, Rob--and interestingly enough, Google has conflated me with another Art Taylor who writes IT stuff. When I Google myself (good to keep an eye on how where your name is out there), I've seen my face pop up over a box of information with his birth year (he's older) and a mix of my publications and his tech books. No matter how many times I click the box to report errors in the information, no one pays attention.... Just did it again for good measure.

Another Art Taylor became famous a few years ago for swallowing cocaine while trying to avoid arrest.... That photo has dogged me for a long time. (Look it up for yourself....)

B.K. Stevens said...

Enjoyed your post, Rob. I've Googled myself only a few times, and not for a while--not because I'm modest, but because I'm afraid of what I might find. And I have in fact run into some ego-deflating comments about my books and stories from time to time, enough to keep me from going fishing very often.

R.T. Lawton said...

Rob, a nice, humorous article. Enjoyed it.

Back in the IT stone age when AOL was king, I tried to get an e-mail address for RTLawton. Somebody else already had it. Turns out there is an R.T. Lawton who writes scientific papers on the properties of water. All stuff that's over my head. Fortunately, he didn't go for a comcast e-mail address in later years. I often wondered if he ever Googled his own name and wondered about me.

Also, when I processed out of Ft. Mpnmouth en route to Vietnam, I became nosy enough to go through my army records. Seems the heart problem I didn't know about actually belonged to a National Guardsman in Ohio who had my exact full name but a different date of birth.

Eve Fisher said...

Well, Phil made the best comment ever.
I have googled myself, and there's a British dentist, a tweeter, a reporter, and a British acting mayor. Quite a collection! I'll let you know when I find the real one.

John Floyd said...

Enjoyed the column, Rob.

Well, I guess this has happened to everybody. When I started submitting stories to magazines, I found that there is (was?) a writer/journalist in Memphis named John Floyd, so I figured I'd better use my middle initial. And while at IBM I once met a client named John Floyd, from South Carolina, and another time crossed paths with the owner of a consulting firm in Houston named John M. Floyd. In fact, the other John M. Floyd and I wound up at the same conference in San Francisco (neither of us knew the other), and the hotel switched our rooms. Messages that night about upcoming appointments got sent to the wrong JMFs (this is a true story), and we would up meeting each other the next day. Nice guy, but I wish he'd booked a different hotel.

Robert Lopresti said...

Many years ago I got a call from the registrar at the college where i was working demanding to know why I hadn't turned in my grades. Because I wasn't teaching that quarter, I explained. Two Loprestis. I never met the other one.

Years ago my wife worked at a place where, in addition to her, there were two other Terries. One day a man came in and asked if he could speak to so Terry So-and-so. Terri took him into the back and had the following conversation with the first person she saw:

"Excuse me, Terri."
"Yes, Terri?"
"Could you take him back to see Terry?"
"Of course, Terri."

I'm sure the visitor thought it was some kind of set-up.

Elizabeth said...

Not about me, but there is a Donald L. Trump, M.D. who is an oncologist & formerly the president of Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo.

O'Neil De Noux said...

OK, I'm going to get back into this with a comment about my name and google. I paid dearly for this name. As an army brat I was always the new kid in class. The kid with two last names. While my friends were Jimmy and Billy and John, I was O'Neil. "Hey, where's that kid Oatmeal Donuts?"
Hated it. Until I became a writer. Search my name and I'm the guy. No confusion. Not a bad name after all.

John Floyd said...

O'Neil, I agree--yours is a great name for a writer. I can think of only two others that sound like born writers--they're friends of mine, here in Jackson: Culpepper Webb and Lovejoy Boteler. You can't dream up names like that.

Elizabeth said...

O'Neil, my husband's last name, which I don't use, is Naleszkiewicz. It rhymes with "molest a bitch."

Pat Marinelli said...

Fun post.

I Google my name every so often. The other Pat Marinelli is in a heavy metal rock band. No relation. Then there's a true crime writer from NJ named Patricia A. Martinelli. My very first story was published in the Star using Patricia A. Marinelli. Lucky for me the editor could change the byline on my next two stories to Pat Marinelli which I've written under ever since.

Robert Lopresti said...

My sister Diane Chamberlain tried to comment but Blogger decided she was phony, which is ironic, considering the topic under discussion. Here is what she tried to say:

There is another writer named Diane Chamberlain. I recently heard from her and she was frustrated that people were buying her books thinking they were by me. (people tend not to read book descriptions. sigh). These folks would then give the other Diane's books one star because she was not me. I agreed with her that this is completely unfair, but not something I can do anything about. I felt bad for her, though. Not her fault she has my name. (or vice versa).

Jeff Baker said...

There are a couple of other Jeff Bakers around, one is a non-fiction writer, one is a baseball player! Rob, there was a Lopresti who wrote for USA Today a while back, I did wonder if he was one of your Loprestis. And when my Mom was a High School librarian there was another Barbara Baker who taught Spanish. When the Spanish teacher Baker passed away a while back, we got a few sympathy cards! (Mom is alive and well!)