Saturday, November 10, 2007

Perhaps This Is Some Kind Of Tribute

Last weekend, Liz at A Chair, a Fireplace & a Tea Cozy did a post on the similarities between the covers for An Abundance of Katherines by John Green and the The Attraction Equation by Charlie Eppes who isn't a real person but a character on the TV show NUMB3RS. Notice that both covers include not only a group of people but mathematical thingies around the titles.

I was forwarding a link to Liz's post to a family member when I realized that the similarities between these books are not limited to the covers.

John Green, a real person, wrote a real book called An Abundance of Katherines about a former child prodigy who is working on a theorem relating to those who are dumped versus those who do the dumping with the intention that somehow this theorem will predict relationships. Charlie Eppes, an imaginary former child prodigy, wrote an imaginary book about his own equation that has something to do with attraction among people, which would also have something to do with relationships. I can't say exactly what because I understand very little of what Charlie Eppes says, I only watch the show because the actor who plays him looks like the family member I was e-mailing today. IMHO, though no one else seems to have noticed.

Anyway, I know I recently said that sometimes two books on the same subject come out at the same time. And, of course, a book and a TV show could appear with similar material at the same time. Except that An Abundance of Katherines came out in September, 2006, while the fake Charlie Eppes wrote his fake book last spring and the fake cover appeared on TV screens this fall. So that's not exactly simultaneous.

Here's what I think should happen: the people behind NUMB3RS should say, "Gee, we don't know how this happened. Perhaps Fate has pulled all this together for its own mysterious purposes. For whatever reason, this has happened, and we're going to put John Greene's book cover up at our website so everyone knows about him and he can sell a million more books."

Or--and this may be even better--the real John Green can sue the pretend Charlie Eppes as part of a NUMB3RS episode. It could even be part of a two- or three-part story arc. And John and Charlie can come up with some kind of mathematical thingie that explains how this whole thing happened. It doesn't even have to be a real mathematical thingie because even though the producers of the show say the math is real, nobody who watches the program has a clue what Charlie's talking about, so it really doesn't matter.

Of course, none of this can happen until after the writers' strike is over.


Liz B said...

After watching Friday's episode (and my goodness, could they beat up Colby any more than they did!), I realized that Charlie's book is even more similar to John's book than it was presented at first; the initial info about Charlie's friendship theorem seemed more about friendships/ popularity, but his tv interview was all about figuring out who is the right person to date.

BTW, I love that Charlie has a publicist. I wonder, who pays for it? I am as intrigued at the portrayal of nonfiction publishing as I am with the fake book resembling John's.

gail said...

You know, when Charlie mentioned his publicist Friday night, I shouted, "He has a publicist???"

Camille said...

As soon as we saw the cover of the book, my daughter and I started shrieking, "Hey, what's up with that?"
She commented on the math similarites immediately. I do think the similarities are more than a coincidence. Who wrote that episode?

Liz B said...

If you examine the whole publishing line, Charlie's book went from unsolicited offer to published work in less than six months (I'm unsure of the exact timeline of when the offer was made, but it was at the earliest the first ep, that was set five weeks after Colby was arrested.) And keep in mind, he had to write it! Because while the journal article was the basis, it was rewritten for the purposes of the book. And since Charlie is a horrible speller, it definately had to be copyedited. I'm just saying, the whole Charlie Writes A Book storyline is full of unintentional chuckles.

Someone on set HAD to know about John's book; the similarities are just too much. But if it's a tributue, shouldn't there be something more said? Considering when you google this, pretty much it's just the three of us saying this.

Civilguy said...

"mathematical thingies around the titles". In the Green book, "a" is being raised to the "n" power (like 3 raised to the 2 power is 3 squared or 9), then multiplied by "abundance", and then all that being divided by "katherines" (which is first being divided by "of"). In the Eppes "book", he is raising "T" to the "HE" power, multiplying it by "attraction", and dividing all that by the square root of "equation". I confess that I do not know the mathematical significance of the vertical and horizontal brackets. That concludes today's math lesson, there will be a test tomorrow.

gail said...

Civil Guy--Does this mean that they are totally different covers?

gail said...

Liz--I was being generous when I suggested it was a tribute.

Two moments of reality from the publishing line--when Charlie is first asked to sign a book, he doesn't know which page to sign. Very true. When he attends his first book signing, only his dad shows up. Also very true.

I take that back. Many authors would say even their dad didn't show.

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