Jonathan Franzen and Lorrie Moore were beyond charming last night at 92Y — where I had never actually been before. My darling Aunts Marjy & Jane took me to that hallowed ground, which Jon Stewart described as the third holiest site to Judaism, after Jerusalem and Zabar’s.
On stage, Moore and Franzen giggled like old friends. They also each had great answers to an audience question: When do you know you’ve arrived at the right ending?
Lorrie Moore talked about the difference between novels and short stories in this respect. Short stories demand endings that shine light backwards on everything that has come before, she said. Novels, by contrast, shine light outwards on what could come next.
Jonathan Franzen said that you know you’ve hit on a good ending (if not the “right” one) when the paralyzing anxiety occasioned by all the worse endings you’ve thought of begins to fall away.
The audience sort of mooed happily, the way groups do when someone says something that makes perfect sense.
Walking out, I told my aunts that Franzen is one of my literary boyfriends. (Adorable Brit David Mitchell, who I saw read at BookCourt, is another, because I am not so monogamous in my literary life: I also go on crazy dates with Jonathan Ames, talk politics with hot grandma Anne Lamott, and have passionate Southern evenings with Ann Patchett.)
Imagine my surprise when I went to sleep that night and dreamed Franzen had become my *actual* boyfriend. Which led to this exchange over GChat:
Logan: um, did you do it?
Logan: just checking
Me: we walked around swarthmore arm in arm
Me: isn’t that kind of even better??
Logan: that is even better. amazing, amazing dream.
Me: i also dreamt that i had to pee in a suitcase for some reason. like, everyone else got to use a toilet and i had to pee in a suitcase. but that was a separate dream.