We spent a lot of time on transportation yesterday, going into town twice. First we went to a Vietnamese restaurant for lunch with C. David Thomas, a meeting arranged by Michelle Oshima (of the MIT Arts Council). David is a good artist who's about my age, Vietnam veteran, who's in close contact with his Vietnamese counterparts.
He's a political activist, but in a quiet way. I want to stay in contact with him – I do want to return to Vietnam some day, and he might be a conduit to that. Interesting guy . . . we were both working out of Pleiku; he arrived just a month or so after I left. So a lot of our memories are congruent.
He gave us three books he's designed: Ho Chi Minh: A Portrait, As Seen by Both Sides, and Visions of War and Peace – which carried a shock of recognition; I checked it out of the Gainesville library last year.
Came home to rest for an hour or two and then off again, also way out on the Green Line, to dinner with Tom Levenson and Katha. Tom's a writer who did his time as head of the Writing Department a few years ago. Katha's an artist and academic. We were joined by TaNehisi Coates, senior editor at the Atlantic – almost coincidentally, TaNehisi is the guy who wrote the marvelous endorsement of The Forever War I quoted last week. He came into town months ago on a visiting-professor gig at MIT, and happened to pick up The Forever War at the Harvard Book Store.
So it was a really fine evening, full of constantly shifting conversation fueled by good food and wine.
People sometimes wonder why we put up with the hassle of moving twice a year so I can put on my professor costume for a few months. Meetings like these two are a large part of it.
And so now I go off to root around in the basement of the MIT Science and Humanities Library, collecting 19th century astronomy stuff for the new novel. Another nice thing about being here.Also on my way to two Christmas parties, the Writing Department and the Humanities School. Tough job, but somebody has to do it.