Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 7 April 2012

Your problems solved

Q. A friend had a glamorous book launch to which I was not invited but which was all over the papers. Since I regularly review books, this exclusion seems pointed. The implication is that I am no longer considered glamorous myself and she would not wish to be conflated with me in any review. What should I say when I next run into her?
— Name withheld, London NW1

A. Don’t assume the exclusion was deliberate. These days most publishers have unpaid interns, to whom such chores as guest lists are often deputed with predictable results. Your dignified response is to assume that being left off the list was a mistake. Next time you see her, cry, ‘I’m so sorry about missing your party but I promise you I did not even know about it until I saw the coverage the next day. Don’t worry. I am going to review your book anyway.’ In this way you can remind this friend of your continuing relevance to the literary world and she will be sure to invite you next time.

Q. When I stop off at a coffee shop in the mornings, on my way to work, I resent being asked by the person behind the counter whether I want ‘anything else at all?’ I am usually irritable first thing in the morning and not in the mood to explain why I don’t want to stuff myself with calorie-laden pastries on top of the over-priced coffee. ‘No thanks’ seems the wrong response as I can’t help feeling they shouldn’t be thanked for trying to tempt me.
— B.A., London W8

A.

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