There must be a joke in this story somewhere. It all started a few weeks ago when I received an email from a soldier stationed in Iraq. He explained to me that his girlfriend’s birthday was coming up, and he’d like to give her a copy of a book signed by her favorite author. That author, he told me, was moi. Would I be able to help him out?

Sure, I said. Send me the book, the girlfriend’s name, and an SASE, and I’d write a nice inscription, sign my name, and send the book on its way to wherever he wanted me to send it.

As soon as we sealed the deal, I felt a bit of doubt creep over me. How could I ever be anyone’s favorite author?

Today, I received a package from the soldier. Inside was a book swaddled in bubble wrap. I carefully undid it, only to find a novel I didn’t write–a novel by another Lee Martin. What I’d feared might be the case indeed was. The soldier had found the wrong Lee Martin.

For brief instant, I considered writing the inscription, signing my name, and sending the book on its way. Then I thought, no, that wouldn’t be honest and besides the soldier would tell his girlfriend the story of how he found Lee Martin’s email address at Ohio State University, mailed the book to him, and yadda, yadda, yadda until the girlfriend realized the signature was bogus.

So instead I looked up the Lee Martin who had written this novel, found his web site and his email address. I sent him an email explaining the situation, telling him that he was the author the girl fancied and not moi. I asked if I could send him the whole kit and kaboodle to him for his attention, and he graciously said, yes, he’d be happy to receive the book and the SASE and to provide the genuine signature.

I was curious, so I started looking for other Lee Martins who were writers. I found three more, which I think is amazing. I mean, I always thought my name so bland. Who would think that that combination of first and last name would create so many artful liars?

I just now realized what the joke might be. Maybe the girlfriend really does think of me as her favorite author. Maybe she said to the boyfriend, “I love Lee Martin’s novels best of all.” And maybe, just maybe, the boyfriend ran out to buy a Lee Martin novel and that was the only one he could find. Maybe the girlfriend will get that signed copy and wonder why in the world her boyfriend got her that book by someone she doesn’t know.

 

13 Comments

  1. Theresa Williams on March 10, 2011 at 2:41 am

    That’s a funny story. I bet there are a lot of people who wouldn’t have gone to the trouble or expense that you did to make it right. Awfully sweet, too, of that young man to go to so much trouble for his Lee Martin loving girlfriend. I was surprised to learn of books by Theresa Williams–not me–also. Apparently, there is a Theresa Williams who wrote books about crocheted handbags and another who writes romance novels.

    • Lee Martin on March 10, 2011 at 2:49 am

      Thanks for the comment, Theresa! Maybe those other two writers who share your name could get together and write a heckuva romance novel that feature heroines who carry crocheted handbags.

  2. Victoria Barrett on March 9, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    There’s a romance novelist in the UK who used to use my actual name as her pen name. I was devastated for a few minutes, in grad school, when I found out.

    • Lee Martin on March 9, 2011 at 9:55 pm

      Glad the devastation didn’t last, Victoria. Thanks for taking time to read and to leave a comment.

  3. Nick McRae on March 10, 2011 at 1:06 am

    This is a fabulous story, Lee. I’m glad the experience didn’t induce a Kafkaesque existential crisis. If it did, of course, that’d make for an even more colorful story.

    In my vanity, last year I set up a Google Alert set to my name, and now I get an e-mail every time the name “Nick McRae” appears on the internet. Occasionally they are me, but they are more often than not another Nick McRae, also from Georgia, who is an offensive lineman for Georgia Tech.

    Maybe one of these days I’ll get a to-be-signed jersey in the mail. That will quite possibly be the greatest day of my life.

    • Lee Martin on March 10, 2011 at 9:24 am

      Nick, I love the fact that your namesake is a football player! Years and years ago, there was a wide receiver for the Chicago Bears named George Farmer who also wrote poetry.

  4. Theresa Williams on March 10, 2011 at 1:21 am

    Lee, I think you’ve got something there! 🙂

  5. Dinty on March 10, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Lee —

    I hope that you follow up on this with the soldier, and the girlfriend, and the other author Lee.

    I know there is a wonderful essay here.

    • Lee Martin on March 10, 2011 at 9:23 am

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Dinty. Everything is material somewhere on down the road.

      • Theresa Williams on March 24, 2011 at 4:35 am

        I know that feeling, when something leaps out of the heart, saying, “Here’s a story!”

        • Lee Martin on March 24, 2011 at 11:45 am

          To update this story: thanks to “the other” Lee Martin, said book is now inscribed and safely delivered.

  6. Theresa Williams on March 31, 2011 at 12:55 am

    Good!

  7. Julia Munroe Martin on March 31, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Hi Lee, This is a funny, sweet story–it reminds me a little bit of The Gift of the Magi. There sure are a lot of Lee Martins out there, aren’t there? 🙂 One of the reasons I used my middle name, along with my married name, is that there are so many Julia Martins out there, too, and at least one writer, so I feel your… pain (for lack of a better word). Nice to meet you!

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