They’re Dropping Like Middle Initials

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In 1991, I was preparing to publish my first book, about a year I spent teaching junior high school in Japan. Stephen Birmingham, the author of “Our Crowd” and an acquaintance of my parents, offered to give me a blurb but recommended one change: that I drop the middle initial from my name on the cover. As a 26-year-old, baby-faced writer, I was eager to appear older and more sophisticated, so I ignored him.

I’ve regretted it ever since.

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