“High Fidelity” and “Love Thy Neighbor”

My book may not have been turned into a movie, but it had a cameo role in one, about which there has been some mystery, until now.

The backstory: there’s a scene in “High Fidelity” in which the character played by John Cusack is lying in bed with his girfriend, who will leave him for the guy who lives upstairs. The camera pans to the girlfriend, who is reading my book; you cannot miss the title because you are intended to see it. She will sleep with her neighbor and is reading a book entitled “Love Thy Neighbor”—get it?

“High Fidelity” is a smart movie (based on a great novel by Nick Hornby) that appeals, apparently, to readers of my book, because I received a lot of emails about its cameo. How had I arranged such fantastic product placement? I was as surprised as everyone else, and I’ve always wondered how LTN earned its moment of celluloid fame. Did the makers of the movie search Amazon to find a book with a useful title for the scene? Did a lowly production assistant suggest it at the last minute, as in, “Hey, this might be a good prop”? Unlikely as it might be, was LTN’s appearance related in any way to its (award-winning) content?

A good friend who was in L.A. last week happened to share a meal with one of the screenwriters of “High Fidelity.” My friend, may he be blessed for eternity, popped the question: How did LTN get into the movie? The screenwriter said he was familiar with LTN and thought the title would make for a cute joke about the girlfriend’s fling. He also thought that for the very modest portion of the audience who might be familiar with my book, it would convey another message he wanted to put out—that the girlfriend was intelligent and thoughtful, because she was reading a book that is not unchallenging to its readers.

Mystery solved, happily.

Author: Peter Maass

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. In 1983, after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, I went to Brussels as a copy editor for The Wall Street Journal/Europe. I left the Journal in 1985 to write for The New York Times and The International Herald Tribune, covering NATO and the European Union. In 1987 I moved to Seoul, South Korea, where I wrote primarily for The Washington Post. After three years in Asia I moved to Budapest to cover Eastern Europe and the Balkans. I spent most of 1992 and 1993 covering the war in Bosnia for the Post.