Meeting Mr. Wolff

Tobias Wolff came to Third Place Books in Seattle to read from Old School tonight. I found out about the reading from Dan, and the two of us drove over in the evening rain.
I heard Wolff read from In Pharaoh's Army: Memories of the Lost War once while I was still a student at Stanford (where he now teaches fiction writing). His reading then was spirited, lively, mischievous, and left me with a greater appreciation for his prose and how well it sounded when read aloud.
He has grown older, so his voice is not quite as strong as it once was. Still, he has a way of changing his voice at select times to enhance one's appreciation of his wit and humor. I could only find a few of my Wolff books to bring to the reading for him to sign; the rest are packed away God knows where. As he scrawled my name in cursive, I shared a story with him...
My love for the short story was kindled when, for some reason that now eludes me, I checked out the collected stories of Wolff, a paperback version I believe is out of print, from Green Library at Stanford. Despite all the reading and homework I had for my classes, I couldn't put it down. In a few days, I had read all twenty something stories in that collection.
The first story in the collection was one he had written as an undergrad at Stanford, Hunters in the Snow, and when I finished it, I felt both awe and sadness. I admired the story immensely and yet knew I'd never write a story that good as an undergrad.