The first Paris Review* I ever held was at the public library.  I had no intention of picking it up, but there, on the shelf among the other magazines, it cast a spell on me.  In my hands it fell open and I read this quote by someone named Saul Steinberg:

“Even a conventional painter who paints in a photographic manner unwittingly begins to work a little like Van Gogh when he reaches the ear.”

How could a girl not resist falling for this man of intrigue?

Meanwhile, a friend of mine, having no clue of my encounter at the library, was at a used bookstore, 2000 miles away, selecting a book for my 40th birthday.  It came in the mail a few days later, something he saw and thought I might like, a book of drawings by Saul Steinberg.

Dear Saul,

I think you’re the best drawer in the whole world.  Will you please go out to dinner with me even though you're dead?  Maybe that pizza place down in Neenah where they let you scribble on the table covers.  I would like very much to spend the evening watching you draw. 

Truly Yours.

*Not published in Paris.

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