If both Oprah and Jon Stewart are otherwise occupied, publishers might want to ring the writers of ABC's ratings juggernaut, Lost to plug their latest book. After one of the show's scriptwriters announced that The Third Policeman, a surreal comic novel written by Flann O'Brien and published by Dalkey Archive, would be appearing on last night's episode, fanatical fans of the series started talking, and buying.
Chad Post, associate director of Dalkey, said the small publisher sold 8,000 copies of The Third Policeman in the days following a Chicago Tribune artcile about the book's upcoming cameo on Lost. (Up until this recent boost the book has, according to Post, sold approximately 15,000 copies since it came out in 1999.) The press is now waiting on an order of 10,000 more copies to arrive and shipped another 2,000 yesterday; Post confirms that the book is now, officially, the bestselling title in the house's history.
That Dalkey was prepared for the sudden interest in The Third Policeman was no coincidence, though. Post recieved call from the script coordinator of Lost over a month ago inquiring about using a shot of the cover in the October 5 epsiode. Post, a dedicated Lost fan himself, said he wound up talking to one of the show's writers in a follow-up conversation, and the writer said he was both a big fan of The Third Policeman and Dalkey.
Post, who is as much of an evangelist of Lost as he is The Third Policeman, says that the book has a number of similarities with the multi-layered, science fiction-like show. Among the parallels, Post points to the fact that the narrator of The Third Policeman takes an elevator down to a place called Eternity, which winds up being a labyrinthine underground lair full of tunnels…a lot like the mysterious tunneled underworld beneath "the hatch" on the show.
The Lost writer who told the Tribune that the book would be "prominently featured" in last night's episode may have overstated it--the cover of the book is barely visible as a character shoves it in a bag. For Lost fans the relatively small screen time may not matter, the book moved up on Amazon from number 61 yesterday to 39 this morning.
T hat fans of the show are already abuzz on message boards about Henry James' Turn of the Screw, which received a lengthier cameo as its cover noticeably flashed before viewers, is a testament to how little it takes to get Lost fans interested in a new conspiracy theory…and another book.