In January 2024, I fell in love with a robot. He was a jaunty fellow, perched on the edge of a shelf at the American Folk Art Museum. I was looking for a gift for someone else. I bought him for myself. This has happened before. It will happen again. Pay close attention.
I have a longstanding passion for folk art, documented here. It is a progressive disease. It doesn’t get better, it just finds new areas to attack. I’ve had my Mexican phase, my Mose/Annie Tolliver phase, my Jimmy Lee Sudduth phase, my Clementine Hunter moment. Lately, it has been robots. No, I don’t know why. I enjoyed Lost in Space when I was young, but I actually preferred Dr. Smith to the tedious robot.
In the spring of 2024, I started Robot Book Club. There might have been alcohol involved. I began ‘trolling eBay for robots and discovered the work of Sally Colby. This led to the acquisition of two more robots. I use one as my Facebook avatar, delighted by the fact that her name is my little-known middle name, which, by the way, has a gorgeous story attached to it. (My great-grandmother named my great-aunt for Madeline Astor, after seeing Astor on the Titianic survivors list. The name then went to my mother, then to me.)
When I decided to give away a week’s worth of items to my loyal readers, I knew I needed to add one of Sally Colby’s robots. I ordered one via eBay. When it arrived, I could not bear to part with it. Even Mr. L agreed that it was exceptionally pretty. I decided to sub out another robot — just as cool, also by Sally Colby. And probably just as pretty and I will probably fall in love again and start scouring eBay again for yet another robot to give away during the week my book goes on sale. But, clearly, I have a problem.
Where does Robots, Anonymous meet?
Meanwhile, there has been some random Lippman love ricocheting around the universe this week. Baltimore magazine named me one of the city’s five top writers in its annual best issue and gave the new book, The Most Dangerous Thing, a rave review. O magazine was equally enthusiastic, saying in part: “Laura Lippman’s rich, multigenerational tale that explores how relationships between friends, spouses, neighbors, parents, and children wound and sustain us. . . . The mystery is undeniably compelling, but it is the characters’ everyday lives and longings that make Lippman’s novel so knowing.”
But enough about me. The important thing is that loyal readers will have a chance to win a robot the week of Aug. 22. Just not the robot pictured above. The new one has the body of a Parmesan can, which makes it a much more fitting complement for a week that will also feature free pizza. Speaking of free pizza, Iggie’s, which will be the site of the party, has allowed me to dub one of its offerings “The Most Dangerous Pizza.” Can you guess the topping? Hint: Alafair Burke’s fans have the inside track on this. Think outside the box.