I've made a show of my crush on George Clooney, but the truth is that I haven't gotten truly weak in the knees over a movie star since I was a tender young thing and Paul Newman walked by me on West 57th Street close enough to touch. So I guess you could say I'm not particularly starstruck.
Unless, of course, you're talking about authors. These are my matinée idols, my rock stars, my heroes, and always have been. In fact, even when I young enough to get all stupid over Paul Newman, I was even more enthralled by an author I had just started reading, Richard Yates. Talk about weak in the knees. Yates's prose made me swoon.
I worked for his literary agent back then, and was fortunate enough to speak with Yates on the phone a number of times, and even got an autographed copy of LIARS IN LOVE. As you can imagine, it is my most prized possession.
(click image for larger view)
In the years since, I've been blessed with the opportunity meet and even befriend some of my favorite authors. Happy to say I still haven't become jaded. Indeed, the more distinguished a writer is, the more breathless I am about the idea of face time.
So you can imagine how excited I was to get the following email from my cousin Richard a few months ago:
Work for me? Dinner with E.L. Doctorow? I almost fell off my chair.
So of course I eagerly accepted. But I worried about the encounter. Would I babble in nervousness, as I often do? Would I embarrass myself and my dear cousin?
Last night was the dinner, and I'm happy to say it was a wonderfully charming evening. Doctorow's wife, Helen, was so gracious she put me right at ease. We talked a bit about politics, a bit about writing, and a bit about WQXR. Toward the end of the evening, Edgar Doctorow asked me if I would like to do a reading at NYU, and Helen said that I'm a lively kid. I took it as a warm compliment!
So I guess I managed to get through it without making a fool of myself, even when Edgar made a passing reference to a late friend of his who had suggested the best way to present his work on stage. The friend's name? Paul Newman.