I bought David Sedaris’ first book Barrel Fever when it was published in 1994. Prior to its publication I was in a writing workshop with him and the stuff he read in class was far superior to what everyone else was doing, so I knew the book would be great. And it is.
In his story Parade, he imagines a series of loving relationship with a bevy of clearly heterosexual celebrities. During his fling with Mike Tyson, he and Tyson buy a Persian/Himalayan blend kitten and Mike insists on naming it “Pitty Ting.” For some reason, this struck me as being deeply funny. I laughed about it for weeks and weeks. I’d be walking down 6th Avenue, think about the absurdity of Mike Tyson calling a kitten “Pitty Ting” and laugh out loud. It’s 18 years later and I still remember that one line! So clever.
I just finished a book of short stories by Southern writer Flannery O’Connor. I’ve heard about O’Connor for years and I know she’s influenced a lot of writers so I thought it was high time to look into her work. I thought she would be a demure lady author telling grand old tales of the sweet life in the South. It turns out that her stories are full of murders and darkness and horrible hillbillies who will cut your throat and steal your artificial leg.
In her short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” (as horrific an ending as you’re ever likely to read), there’s a chatty old grandmother who has A CAT NAMED PITTY SING. What the fuck! Sedaris stole that, right?! There’s no way that’s a coincidence.
It’s really not that big a deal. Hardly worth a blog post. But I kinda wish I’d never known.