When Joyce met Proust they exchanged a mere few sentences. When Celan visited Heidegger they spoke about - well, nobody knows, but it probably wasn't the weather. What did Borges and Ballard discuss during their epochal encounter in the late 1960s? (Simon Sellars, that scurrilous paparazzo, has the shocking photo!) Best guesses on the back of an envelope to the usual address.
I'm a big fan of "when such-and-such met so-and-so" stories, especially when the details are vague, possibly apocryphal. What really happened is impossible to pin down, so you get speculation, or a Rashomon-esque kaleidescope of viewpoints. (eg. Did William Burroughs once tell Ian Curtis to "fuck off"? Mr Sellars once again has the story.) Literary gangs (Bloomsbury, the Lost Generation, etc.) are interesting in their way but it's the run-ins between incongruous (or even incompatible) individuals that are especially tantalising.
It's harder to get worked up about encounters between contemporary writers, most of whom are distinctly unmysterious and relatively accessible. I saw Ian McEwan, Peter Carey and Paul Auster yacking with Jennifer Burne a couple of months ago on ABC and it had all the intensity, conflict and significance of an informal Rotary Club meeting. Writers are too present these days, always shilling their wares or appearing at festivals or worrying away in public at the gnawed and marrowless femurs of their political obsessions. You can watch them chat to one another on tv, you can read their blogs and newspaper columns, you can see them live at book signings and literary festivals and dispensing advice in creative writing classes. Honestly, you get sick of the sight of them - and then they want you to care about their bloody books!
I prefer shadowy figures, your Pynchons and DeLillos who hide out in bunkers for decades at a time before emerging (in Pynchon's case in cartoon form) to hand over their latest work before disappearing once more from sight. I also prefer dead figures, who are by definition shadowy (no: shady) and unknowable and whose interactions took place in that dim, inadequately documented time known as "the past". Am I saying dead authors are more interesting than live ones? Possibly. All I know is that I'll take Dear Bunny, Dear Volodya: The Nabokov-Wilson letters over Dear Four-Eyes, Dear Plummy Git: The McEwan-Amis Emails any day.