It probably comes to no surprise to most people that I am an asshole. I do my best to be a good person, but it doesn’t always work out. Most recently evidence that I am an asshole comes about in relation to Nicole Krauss.
I was contacted recently by the writer Melissa Pilakowski whom I had originally met through the University of Nebraska MFA program. She mentioned that she was bringing some of her students into Denver for the Nicole Krauss reading over at the Colfax Tattered Cover location and offered to let me join them. At the time I was not familiar with the works of Nicole Krauss (though I was sure I’d heard the name before), but I said sure because the fact that Melissa was going was as good an endorsement as any you will find.
I looked up the wikipedia entry for Nicole Krauss to get some background, intending to read at least something she had written and to know something about her before going to the reading. I ended up reading two of her three books before the reading (Man Walks Into a Room and The History of Love), saving the most recent Great House until after the reading since she was going to read from it. However, when I first looked at the wikipedia entry, the item that stood out the most at first, since I was unfamiliar with her works, was that she was married to Jonathan Safran Foer (author of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Everything is Illuminated, books that I had read).
Now, this is why I am an asshole most recently. I mean, here is this wonderful writer and the most significant thing about her to me was who she was married to. I felt horrible. It was insulting and sexist. Of course, I fully believe that there is no way to be familiar with every author I should be familiar with. There are too many and my reading patterns are far from systematic. However, I still felt bad, the fact that this was the thing I was homing in on.
Frankly, after I read her first two books, I was much more impressed with her writing than her husband’s. They are both amazing writers, but I think she definitely has the most impressive work to date. That made me feel even worse that I had originally found who she was married to be the most relevant thing about her since she turned out to be an even better writer than him.
However, I am familiar with her work now and accord her work the respect it deserves. I will be going to the reading tonight (going to the reading is why this post is earlier than usual) free from any of my former disrespectful thoughts. Interestingly enough, when I see Jonathan Safran Foer’s name now, my first thought is: Oh, he’s that writer who is married to Nicole Krauss (No offense intended, Mr. Foer).