Bob Dylan really admired Woody Guthrie, who died from Huntingtons. I spent a couple of years writing a book about a guy who thinks he has Huntingons and goes into a tail spin when he finds out he's not going to die. (It was dubbed a "tweener" by editors, meaning a book that didn't fit into any category and they thought would be hard to market. I loved that book.)
For a long time, I was on a listserv for people with HD. If your parent has HD, you have a 50-50 chance of getting it. Little treatment, no cure, strikes in say your 30s, you start having twitches which grow worse and worse. It's pretty terrible. And on the listserv I read some awful things. A woman who told us all she was going to commit suicide and could someone watch after her cats? Someone who talked about how their father shot their mother and then turned the gun on himself. People who couldn't bring themselves to take the test, and people who did. A woman who was caring for her dying husband in one room and her dying kid (there is a worse, juvenile form of the disease) in the other. I didn't really mean to be a lurker, but I kind of was one. When I finally posted there was a bit of a kerfuffle, although I had the (fairly) pure motive to get it right. And then one day I stopped getting the emails. It seemed like a sign. I knew at that point the book wouldn't sell, at least not then, so I did not sign up again.
I met Michael Chabon during the first gulf war when he and his girlfriend at the time showed up for a Louis B. Jones reading at Powells. The three of us were the only people there - everyone else was at home watching the Scud Stud. Afterward I went to talk to Louis and stammered out I was a wannabe writer. He gestured toward Michael and asked if I knew him. I thought he thought Portland was really small, but then he said it was the guy who wrote The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. I felt so literary! We had a little chat.
The next day at work, no one - and I probably told 30 people - had heard of either of them. Ever.