I doubt it's a coincidence that the writers I most want to meet came to me via non-fiction.
I clearly recall my first experience like this, right after reading Anna Quindlen's 1993 book of essays "Thinking Out Loud", which I finished around the time of its publication. I began by writing her a letter of introduction - never sent. And though I've subsequently read and liked some of Quindlen's fiction, I can't this moment remember an instance when my gateway for wanting a tete-a-tete with an author was a novel. For example, my first experience with the late David Foster Wallace was trying to crack his breakout novel "Infinite Jest". Had no luck with that and his short stories are equally inscrutable. Yet, two of his books of essays made me want to look him up; seriously.
Immediately after finishing "This Is How" by Agusten Burroughs last year, I tried communicating with him via his website. Wisely, his firewall is avid fan/stalker/nut proof. Oh well. Regular readers of this blog know of my unadorned admiration for the non-fiction of Christopher Hitchens. Though I'd have been hard-pressed to hold my own in a conversation with him, that didn't prevent me from fantasizing about exactly that scenario while Hitchens was still alive.
Now, directly on the heels of completing "Nickel and Dimed" (2001) by Barbara Ehrenreich, a few years after reading her 2008 book "This Land Is Their Land", I've added another candidate for that dinner all serious readers have imagined. If you had that dinner and only writers were invited, who would they be? How many would be, like mine, primarily from the world of non-fiction? For the record: If E.L. Doctorow, Toni Morrison or Philip Roth want to discuss their fiction with me, I am so available.