“I’m not interesting,” Jonathan Safran Foer announced when I asked him to come out of his palatial home and breathe some oxygen. “People assume that because I’m a writer, I’m naturally interesting. They couldn’t be more wrong. I’m a sad piece of driftwood and the biggest disappointment since Steve Perry left Journey.”
Of course, I tried to cajole poor Foer with some of the trademark wit I used in my one-page Q&As. I asked Foer if he considered stabbing himself because of his youth and his wealth, pointing out the slam-dunk posterity advantages of an early Sylvia Plath-like literary death. I asked Foer if he ever thought about throwing himself in an oven just to see what life might have been like for his grandfather, had not the mystery woman saved him. Casual jokes to make Foer smile. But Foer was adamant about his cipher status.
“I just watched Behind the Music last night,” he said. “I spent all day in bed, trying to work myself up to write. In desperation, I turned on the tube. When I saw Daryl Hall reveal how hard it was for him to write ‘Maneater,’ how he too had spent years working up the courage to be a great artist. I…I wish I could offer you something a little more….” He stopped midsentence and stared at my decolletage.
“Manly?” I ventured.
“No, something fierce and more representative of the Caucasian race,” he said by way of desperation. “Something along the lines of Daryl Hall. Have you been dating?”
“No,” I said. “Most people are afraid to talk with me because I’m such a bitch.”
I looked at his wiry physique and I saw a beautiful 28 year old boy rather than a writer. I saw a few of my own neuroses in Foer and wondered how he might feel against me in bed. Would he read me Nabokov? Could I be his Humbert Humbert?
My friends had warned me of Fatal Attraction types, but there was something of the easy conquest represented in the 150 e-mail messages he sent me every hour. I did everything in my power to resist his attraction, even comparing him to Liberace. But I realized that I could not resist the man who had penned Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.