I've been listening to New Yorker Fiction Podcasts, first selecting those whose descriptions contain names I recognize. Yesterday, I downloaded Aleksandar Hemon's discussion of Bernard Malamud’s “A Summer’s Reading.”
I've met Hemon twice - both times in Chicago, the first when I was 17 and had just finished Nowhere Man, at a local reading and discussion of the book. We crossed paths again the next year at the 2005 Chicago Public Library Carl Sandburg Awards Dinner honoring John Updike (who I also met that night. He was gracious and signed not only the two-volume Rabbit series every attendee received, but the 3 other books of his I'd brought along; I later discovered my actions were inconsiderate and in terrible taste, but I had NO IDEA at the time and was simply thrilled to be in Updike's presence. Though, having reread the Rabbit, Run more recently, I've found my tastes quite changed.... ).
I was at the dinner with a friend, thanks to a kind benefactor, who understood two bright-eyed 18-year-olds with literary aspirations could have never afforded the night's price. She spotted Hemon before I did and crossed the room to accost him in the most untoward fashion. I, of course, followed, beaming. To our surprise and elation, he not only remembered meeting us both the previous year at his reading, but recalled our names.
Yesterday, as I listened to Hemon's discussion of Malamud's "A Summer's Reading", Deborah Treisman's description of the short story's protagonist as a young man who "seems to suffer from a terrible inertia" left me with a pang of guilt. Because of the timing, my present circumstances(, and youthful egotism?), and our brief (and probably, in my mind, exaggerated) history, my mind was convinced Hemon's (and Treisman's) words were a direct indictment of idleness.