Chilean novelist and poet Roberto Bolaño said, “Coincidence obeys no laws and if it does we don't know what they are.” If you go to the Internet you get a couple of dozen quotes about coincidences, a lot of which contradict each other. Some people see coincidences as part of a grand plan of God’s, others as interesting, yet random happenstance.
What I know about coincidences and me is that they come to me out of the blue. I may go months without noticing anything particularly coincidental, and then get a surprise.
The surprise happened to me yesterday morning. I have been reading a book, About Town, The New Yorker and the World It Made by Ben Yagoda. In a section about author J.D. Salinger I read that Salinger , “. . . wisely chose not to reprint [his story] “Hapworth”* in book form, and as a result many libraries’ bound New Yorker volume containing the June 19, 1965, issue is missing pages 32 to 113, their removal effected by some fanatic devotee of the author’s.”
The famous issue.
I put the book down and read my newspaper. With the paper is a supplement magazine, American Profile, that comes out on Monday. In an article called “Christmas Memories of the Stars” I read a quote by actress Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project) of a favorite gift: “I am a huge J.D. Salinger fan. I had a boyfriend who gave me all the uncollected J.D. Salinger stories that were published in magazines but were not compiled into book collections. That was a nice Christmas present.”
Now that I resoundingly claim as a coincidence. It also explained who had been cutting up the New Yorker!
Did anyone ever ask Salinger how he felt about coincidences? Or cutting up the New Yorker, for that matter?
Because of the aforementioned unknown nature of coincidences it could be months or years before I am surprised by another. As to whether a coincidence means anything, I will leave that for someone else to figure out.
*The story, “Hapworth 16, 1924” is, as I write this, available in both the New Yorker archives (you have to be a subscriber to the magazine to read their archives) and a convenient PDF at GoingWiMax.com. If you click on the link and get an error then the link has been taken down. Sorry, but it wasn’t me who did it.