Why I Live In New York

rothI would argue with anyone that Philip Roth (pictured) is the greatest living American writer. (DeLillo leaves me cold; Cormac McCarthy has a claim, but lacks variety; and don’t get me started on Joyce Carol Oates.) So the fact that I had a brief encounter this morning with Roth has me feeling, at least a little, as if I touched the hem of the king’s gown. This occurred at a UPS store on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Roth, clad in olive raincoat against the elements, was carrying a large parcel. I ducked into the store, just behind him, using as pretext my need for a small mailing envelope. I told him how much I’d enjoyed his work over the years, beginning with a reading of “Portnoy’s Complaint” when I was 13. Roth was gracious. We spoke for a minute about a mutual friend and, then, like the Lone Ranger, he hopped onto his steed and was gone.

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