I hope my last post didn’t make anyone think I’m on the brink of flinging myself into oncoming traffic (because a precariously employed Type-A is essentially tragedy waiting to happen). If there’s any truth to my life, it’s that things always end up working out. Tonight, that half-full glass comes in the form of Azar Nafisi.

I first encountered Nafisi in my first year of university, when the spine of her memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran caught my attention from a packed bookcase at Milwaukee’s  Broad Vocabulary bookstore. I had only just read Lolita myself, which had left enough of an impression to keep me submerged in a state of dreamy fangirl veneration for at least the following year, so even though I knew nothing about anything (and even less about Iran), I was sure I needed this book.

I plowed through Nafisi’s account of clandestine book club meetings in one sitting and immediately decided that she would be my new hero. The timing was perfect: my recently handwritten four-page fan letter to my childhood role model, Madeleine L’Engle, had gone unanswered (I had no way of knowing, but she was in the clutches of dementia at the time), so I was ready for an upgrade.

While the transition from 18 to 19 isn’t quite a leap from innocence to adulthood, for me it marked the difference between a time when it seems appropriate to pen hyperbolic confessionals to your literary role models and one in which you respect their work from a measured distance. Maybe this is the reason I never bombarded Azar Nafisi’s literary agent with a slew of emails until the poor, defeated soul relented with a contact address for my stalking convenience. Still, I can’t help but imagine how my 19-year-old self would react if she knew I was about to see Azar Nafisi, in the flesh, as a rookie Toronto journalist five years down the line. She’d probably look in the mirror and breathe a sigh of relief.

Advertisements