Best of Fish & Bicycles: Origin of the Feces

Originally Published: November 22, 2009



There’s a scene in a movie that I love a lot, Lawrence Kasdan’s 1983 film The Big Chill, that I thought of today for the first time in years.

Michael, a People Magazine writer played by Jeff Goldblum, is talking with his friends about his job:

Michael: Where I work, we only have one editorial rule: you can’t write anything longer than the average person can read during the average crap. I’m tired of having all of my work read in the can.

Harold: People read Tolstoy in the can.

Michael: Yes, but they can’t finish it

I thought of this scene as soon as I read the news today that a rare first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, one of only 1,250 copies printed in 1859, had been found on a shelf in the guest bathroom in a house in Oxford, England.

So, if you, like me, consider a book like this to be comparable in weight and substance to Tolstoy, either the People Magazine editorial board was wrong, Harold was right, or folks in Oxford spend a LOT of time on the toilet.

Meanwhile, how do you suppose Charles Darwin would take this news?

Would the fact that the book is predicted to sell for close to $100,000 at an auction on the 150th anniversary of its publication make him feel any better?

One thought on “Best of Fish & Bicycles: Origin of the Feces

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