Last week I got a startling phone call from a friend, laughing about the fact that I was alive and kicking. Evidently, he had just received an inquiry from a cousin in a neighbouring town about my demise. What!
The newspaper in that town, the Peterborough Examiner, had printed a long and glowing obituary about my writing career. My photograph accompanied the piece.
In the next day or two, both our church office and my son-in-law received calls about my passing.
However, the gentleman they eulogized was not me, Eric E. Wright, but Eric Wright a mystery writer from Toronto who has written a series of books featuring a Toronto policeman.
Oh, the ignominy, or pale glory, of living under the shadow of a popular and well-known personality. Just the month before, as has often happened, shoppers at a book fair had assumed I was that mystery writer. “Didn’t we see a review of your books in the Toronto paper?” Sadly, no.
Occasionally, I’ve been tempted to enjoy his reflected popularity. In the summer I received an email informing me that I had been the honoured recipient of an award for lifetime achievement–only the second time that award had been granted. For ten seconds I thought, how wonderful! Then I realized it was my nemesis. Augh! I immediately sent back an email declining the honour.
At other times the confusion has been scary. Years ago our bank called up one morning to inform us that we were thousands of dollars overdrawn in our US account. After our initial shock, we realized that it was our most worthy colleague. Fortunately, the bank rather quickly back-peddled when they realized it was the other Eric Wright charging a rather expensive Caribbean vacation to his account.
About the obituary; I phoned the editor and explained the confusion. He profusely apologized for this serious error. Evidently, when they accepted the article from one of their stringers, they just went to their huge online catalogue of pictures and picked an Eric Wright photo. They had actually, printed a review of one of my books in the past. As a consequence of their error, the editor promised to print a retraction with some reference to my ten published books and a link to my web site.
Finally, I may come out from under the shadow of my nemesis and get some publicity. Mind you, I’m not going to hold my breath—but it could happen. At least I’m in good company. Wasn’t it Hemmingway who said, “The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated?”
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