In my giddiness last week, I overlooked a corporate cousin also on the <a href=” http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/01/books/bestseller/0401besthardfiction.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1174915109-XuSigEQkxA/JNioZZNTCOQ” target=”_blank”>Times list</a>: Joe Hill. In fact, Hill’s debut novel HEART-SHAPED BOX has been on the list for five weeks. Hill happens to be the son of Stephen King, but as Morrow publisher Lisa Gallagher told the students at the Writer in Paradise conference in January, this was not known at the time of submission. Yesterday, I was reading Lee Goldberg’s blog, when I found <a href=” http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/2007/03/king_of_the_hil.html” target=”_blank”>this entry</a>, which raises the question of whether Hill has been disingenuous, using the King angle while seeming to disavow it.
Now, in interest of full disclosure, I really like Stephen King. He has done two huge favors for my household, on the professional side of the ledger. And, as noted above, Hill and I share a publisher. Those things said, I am particularly sensitive to the issue of nepotism, and it’s a real damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t phenomenon. In Baltimore, for example, I am and probably always will be known as Theo Lippman Jr.’s daughter. My father was an editorial writer and Sun columnist for thirty years, famous for his knowledge of the presidency. For years, I tried to get a job at the Sun, but the perception seemed to be that my father was the only thing I had going for me. Finally, I applied for a job at the evening paper, owned by the same company, but never mentioned my father. They figured it out along the way – they were good journalists – but were charmed by it. I got the job.
I’ve had some other experiences with this sort of thing; if you know me well, you know exactly what I’m talking about, and if you don’t know, then so be it. The point is, these sorts of relationships are the elephants in the room. They have to be acknowledged, even if the context is that you’d prefer not to talk about them.