A closing note concerning the Saroyan Conference: although most of the participants gave quite interesting talks about the author, a few proceeded on more or less invented themes, which weren’t necessarily based on anything real, in order to receive an invitation to attend the conference. A certain expert on Arshile Gorky, for instance, presented “When Saroyan met Arshile Gorky.” During the talk, she theorized that Saroyan might not have approved of Gorky, possibly because he changed his Armenian name, or some other similar reason, and talked about circumstances under which the two might have met. After her presentation, a guest commented that it didn’t really seem Saroyan had ever met Gorky, to which the presenter admitted that there was no record of them meeting, but that “it certainly is possible.”
On a different subject, someone who owns a store in the city center said that during an investigation by tax people she was told “We’re going to charge you with a violation, so you might as well cooperate.” The store owner then gave them a copy of a relative’s passport, as if this relative was working illegally at the store, thus giving the tax people the reason they needed to levy a fine. If she hadn’t done that, the store owner said, her penalty would have been much more severe.