London Police Catch Prankster Who Stole Writer Jonathan Franzen's Eyeglasses : The Two-Way At a book party at the Serpentine Club, two men grabbed the writer's eyeglasses, left a ransom note, and fled into Hyde Park. The culprit was caught 30 minutes later, and Franzen has his glasses back.
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London Police Catch Prankster Who Stole Writer Jonathan Franzen's Eyeglasses

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London Police Catch Prankster Who Stole Writer Jonathan Franzen's Eyeglasses

London Police Catch Prankster Who Stole Writer Jonathan Franzen's Eyeglasses

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ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:

And I'm Mary Louise Kelly.

N: And let me let you pick up this story. You're at this party. When did you realize something was afoot?

LOUISE KELLY: Somebody shouted: Channel 4, Channel 4, and grabbed the glasses from my face and took off running, and I actually thought, because I was suddenly blind, I thought it was my editor, warning me that Channel 4 from the BBC had arrived. So I trotted after this person and knew something was amiss...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

LOUISE KELLY: ...only when I saw him leap a five-foot fence and disappear into the trees.

LOUISE KELLY: So you thought this was like a glamour shot and he wanted your glasses off because the TV film crew had arrived?

LOUISE KELLY: Or maybe they weren't supposed to be there, and he was trying to hide me or something, and the easiest thing was just to snatch my glasses. I was not actually handed the ransom note, somebody else was. I found out about that later. But several people gave chase and managed to trap this person against the Serpentine, which is a body of water in Hyde Park, and before long, the police were involved. And there was a police helicopter because I guess...

LOUISE KELLY: It's a police helicopter?

LOUISE KELLY: ...the police feared the person - a helicopter was involved. The (unintelligible)...

LOUISE KELLY: Summoned because of the theft of your glasses?

LOUISE KELLY: Well, no. I think that the fear was that this person had gone into the water in an effort to escape and might perish in the water.

LOUISE KELLY: Aha.

LOUISE KELLY: And he was eventually coaxed out of some bushes, and a very nice police officer showed up about half an hour later where I was having dinner and gave me the glasses back, unharmed. And it's actually not as weird as what have been going on the few days earlier when the entire first edition of the U.K. edition of the book had had to be recalled for pulping.

LOUISE KELLY: A typesetting error in the first edition. Yeah. It's been quite a week for you in London.

LOUISE KELLY: Yeah, a serious typesetting error. Yes, exactly.

LOUISE KELLY: What a week for you.

LOUISE KELLY: So...

LOUISE KELLY: Well, let me get back to these culprits who were cornered behind a bush after they swam across the lake in Hyde Park. I gather you're not pressing charges.

LOUISE KELLY: Oh, absolutely not. No. No hard feelings.

LOUISE KELLY: Any idea who...

LOUISE KELLY: It was...

LOUISE KELLY: ...who these fugitives?

LOUISE KELLY: I was recalled really to...

LOUISE KELLY: Yeah.

LOUISE KELLY: ...the '70s. It seemed like a street girl in a store or maybe like somebody - and I was grateful that they had not put a cream pie on my face, that they've just stolen the glasses.

LOUISE KELLY: Just temporarily blinded you at your book launch?

LOUISE KELLY: That's right.

LOUISE KELLY: Well, are you able, Jonathan Franzen, to maintain a sense of humor about all this, or does this make you want to stay home on the night of your next book launch?

LOUISE KELLY: No, I've been laughing through the whole thing and observing the anguish, secondhand. The publisher was very anguished about the disastrous printing error. And, you know, what higher compliment can you get for your eyewear than to have someone grab it from your face?

LOUISE KELLY: It is very distinctive eyewear. You show up in the press a lot. Describe the glasses in question for us.

LOUISE KELLY: Well, they're sort of heavy, brown, horn-rimmish sort of things that if I take off, I become entirely invisible, not only to other people but also...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

LOUISE KELLY: ...more or less, blind as a bat without them, so to myself too.

LOUISE KELLY: Well, but this is a story with a happy ending.

LOUISE KELLY: Exactly.

LOUISE KELLY: Glasses back and onto the next stop on the book tour.

LOUISE KELLY: Terrific. Yes.

LOUISE KELLY: All right. Thanks so much.

LOUISE KELLY: My pleasure.

LOUISE KELLY: That's the writer Jonathan Franzen. He is on book tour in London for his new novel called "Freedom," and he was talking with us about the theft of his eyeglasses last night.

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