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INSET: detail reveals show-offy paperback. (AP)

Local Man Selects Reading Material For the Benefit of Other Subway Riders

CAMBRIDGE, MA--With an apparently ludicrous level of self-consciousness, local man Ben Deily is carefully choosing books for his subway commute with an eye to fellow commuters, an interview revealed today.

"Well, jeez, yeah," admitted Deily, former C-list rock star and current "advertising executive." "I admit it, I can get a bit preoccupied with what people might think when they see what I'm reading on the train.

"So, obviously, I have to devote a lot of thought to making sure it doesn't look like I put a lot of thought into this."

The self-deluded "musician" and avid reader went on to explain his half-baked rationales in greater detail.

Great books reduced to stacks of literary

"I mean, if I go with something like Baudrillard or Foucault...frankly I'm going to look like an elitist showoff jerk," explained Deily. "On the other hand, if I go off towards, I dunno, sci fi or horror and the like, people might think I'm some sort of philistine."

Sources suggest that it may have never occurred to Cambridge native Deily that, in the words of one pundit, "no one could possibly give a flying $#@! one way or the other what some idiot is reading on the train."

"I can get away with poetry, for the most part," adds Deily, a manic gleam in his eyes. "I successfully had James Wright's Selected going for a week or so without any dirty looks. Well, none that I detected."

Local man searches desperately for "appropriate" material. (AP)

However, when in doubt, Deily confesses that he caves in to his distorted perceptions of how fellow subway passengers interpret the rhetoric of his literary choices.

"The 'New Yorker' is pretty safe, so that's about where I end up most days," the MBTA Red Line rider glumly admitted. "What can you do?"

The obsessive Deily has reportedly considered--and rejected--everything from obscure fantasy author Michael Shea's "Nift the Lean" ("too geeky") to famed Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hahn's "Peace is Every Step" ("I don't wanna look like a religious looney, do I?").

"Of course, the worst thing would be if what I was reading appeared to be some sort of calculated choice...like, something I had DELIBERATELY picked out to impress a bunch of strangers. I mean, wow--how embarrassing would THAT be?"

"More than anything," Deily explains, "I just don't want to look ridiculous."

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