Mailbox Monday post, I mentioned purchasing a long-overdue replacement of my copy of Andrew Sean Greer's The Story of a Marriage, and I told you that I'd write about how the two of us met...
Google is an amazing thing. At the click of a mouse, it tells me that Andy and I met on July 19, 2002, because that is when the San Francisco Symphony presented a staged concert performance of Leonard Bernstein's Candide. It was a not-to-be-missed event, starring George Hearn, Jason Danieley, Jennifer Welch-Babidge, Keith Phares, Rita Moreno, Marin Mazzie, and Stanford Olsen. I was still new to San Francisco, in town less than six months, so I grabbed a cheap ticket and went by myself. As it happened, I was seated next to an adorable young man who was also there by himself. You got it; it was Andy.
|Me and Weasel, back when I could still afford haircuts.|
Anyway, the young man and I had started the most delightful conversation during the first intermission, and at some point in the second intermission, I suddenly remembered my manners. I said, "I'm Susan, by the way." And he said, "I'm Andy." Right then, some distant synapse fired. I'm still not sure how I made the connection, but I looked at him and slowly said, "Andrew Sean Greer. I bought The Path of Minor Planets ten days ago." And I had. Let me back up.
How It Was For Me. It was a good story, and he read it well.
The Path of Minor Planets. And two things must have happened that night: He impressed me, and the title stuck in my head. Because weeks later when I saw a nice hardback copy at Green Apple Books, I bought it.
I hadn't yet had a chance to read it that evening at the Symphony, but just then, all the pieces came together. I said his name and the title of his novel and Andy's mouth dropped open. That was the first time he'd ever been recognized in public. I probably would have figured it out sooner, but between the reading and the night we met, he'd cut off his beautiful blonde curls. (Ladies, he had hair that you just wanted to run your fingers through! In fact, I think I did just that some time later when the curls briefly resurfaced. They haven't been seen since.) Then I'd told him that I'd been at the "Chabon" event, and got the full scoop on what went down that evening. As it happens, Michael felt so badly about the SNAFU that he and Ayelet had Andy over for dinner to apologize, and they've been good friends ever since. I also knew Michael Chabon well enough to say "hello," so we talked about him, and laughed that all three of us are Marylanders. A really small world.
The Confessions of Max Tivoli, an absolutely brilliant book, followed by The Story of a Marriage, his only work I haven't read. It's been a few years since then, and every time I see him, I ask about the next book. I'm sure he loves that.
Oh, that's right, we still see each other. Not socially. We're not dear old friends. But we're friendly. We live in the same city, and travel in bookish circles. We bump into each other a couple of times each year, there are rare emails, and I'm always greeted with a warm hug. He's a very nice guy. And he's one hell of a writer. If you haven't read him, I urge you to check him out. Or, if you've read only the later work, do explore the lesser-known early works. You'll be so glad you did! As for why I seem to attract novelists to me at all times and places, I simply can't explain it.
As a final treat, I leave you with some video of the night Michael Chabon interviewed Andy for City Arts and Lectures.