As a once subscriber to the London Review of Books I remember the consistently amusing (if sometimes a bit overly self-consciously so), personals section in their classifieds, where a lot of overeducated and mildly frustrated people try to be witty enough to catch the interest of their potential soul-mates within what is roughly the character limit of Twitter. I’ve always wondered if all of this quirkiness is working out though. I mean, of course, I too would much rather go on a blind date with someone who can at least come up with a couple of lines wittier than “SWF looking for a serious man”, but this is obviously no guarantee or even an indication for a good personal match — and there is precious little to be found in terms of personal details in LRB dating column. Supposedly this is taken care by a filter of where the ad appears — as being a subscriber of LRB is already an indication of a certain kind of predisposition, if not social class and character.
This line has recently been taken a step forward with a new online dating service, Alikewise, which lets you search for a potential date by books or authors that s/he likes. It’s a nice idea and at the very least you can be sure that there is something to fill those awkward moments of silence with upon your first face-to-face meeting. I suppose it also works the other way — I am myself a member of a Facebook group with a title of “Liking Paulo Coelho Is Grounds For Divorce” — which, now to think of it, could well run a dating service of its own, as is testified by a recent post over there:
Seeing that there are female fans of this group is such a relief. To all the ladies out there who are NOT waiting for the universe to conspire to make their personal legends come true in order to unlock their inner treasures whilst dreaming beneath the ever-flowering tree of destiny energy…I thank you.
Anyway, back to our bookworms’ dating site. I did run a fast search to see if it nets a would-be match for me, and I must say that the pickings were rather slim. Witold Gombrowicz, Milorad Pavić, Danilo Kiš, all no hits. There was one person who liked Kawabata but was promptly disqualified by names such as Paolo Coelho and Dan Brown alongside with it. Perec and Thomas Bernhard gave one hit each. Okay, I thought, let’s try with poetry. Lorca, Amichai, Creeley — nothing. When I figured that I’d go mainstream and search for Borges, it resulted in 19 matches, while Bulgakov netted seven. So it would seem that if it came down to picking a mate based on books, it would seem that my genes wouldn’t have too good prospects to make it.