In Which I Encounter My Nemesis

At last night’s book launch party for Kate Christensen’s The Great Man, I observed a bald man — much shorter than I had expected — resembling a certain journalist working for Time Magazine. It was none other than Lev Grossman, my proud nemesis. Lev had been wiser than me in maintaining his bald form. I had allowed my hair to grow back, complete with its ridiculously receding hairline, after a brief experimental phase in which I had forgotten to acquire a drug habit or transform into some consciously ironic Williamsburg hipster, but that mostly involved seeing if I could effect some bald badass corporeal form with ridiculously cherubic cheeks. The experiment, alas, had mixed results, particularly since I had laryngitis during most of my hairless stint and because Daniel Mendelsohn had confused my lack of voice with a diffident stance. And I remain convinced that I could beat Mr. Mendelsohn in an aggressive game of ping-pong or Connect Four. But no matter. This is unnecessary bravado, but it must be set down for the record. I know I can win. I do plan to revisit this hairless approach later, perhaps when I am feeling more masculine or I have just eaten twenty pounds of raw ground chunk and jogged six times around Prospect Park and I have shouted Hemingway passages at the top of my lungs.

Anyway, Lev was there. And I introduced myself as his nemesis. It took three attempts before he figured out who I was.

“Ed?” he said, unaware that I had moved to New York.

It turns out that he lives not far from me, that he genuinely likes William Gibson (I quizzed him on Count Zero), and that he is a more or less friendly person. Kate Christensen, who was somehow cognizant of last year’s skirmish, remarked, “But you’re both such nice guys!” I assured Ms. Christensen that she was wrong. Lev and I enjoyed a Moriarty-Holmes relationship. We were both gentlemen and we didn’t wish to unleash our fury upon an unsuspecting crowd.

Is this the end of the Lev-Ed loggerjam? Well, who is to say? Mr. Grossman appears on the surface to be quietly charming and perhaps just a tad misunderstood. But I still believe him to be made of sturdier stuff and indeed pressed him on this pedantic character quality over twenty minutes of conversation. He took it well.

I slipped away so that Lev would think himself safe. But, of course, I concoct silly and meticulously contrived plans that will be unleashed at a time of my choosing.


  1. “I remain convinced that I could beat Mr. Mendelsohn in an aggressive game of ping-pong or Connect Four”

    Boggle. Literary critics going mano a mano must do so with Boggle.

  2. Champion vs. Mendelsohn in an aggressive game of Connect Four. Wow. That would put even the Jonathan Ames boxing match to shame.

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