Over at The Millions, Madison Smartt Bell writes an anecdote that squarely fits the “transplanted writer in Old New York” pastiche. I never tire of these stories. There is something universal about these stories that explains the kind of gravity that pulls a lot of writers to New York—whether for their entire lives or just a part of it. This is my version of the underdog overcoming all adversity to win the world.
I like this line the most:Unemployed and impecunious, I spent a lot of time sitting around Washington Square Park, observing people and events which became fodder for my first novel.
Most of us who come to New York in a fit of delusion thinking that we can create art and then make money from it know these idle moments so well.
On the point about the salons, while I admire any effort people make to get together and do literary things, I wish the NYT/media would make its own effort to cover the entire landscape of what’s going on out there. They catch on to these niche things because, as Rohin says, there’s an air of exclusivity here and it all seems very hip and upscale. They luxuriate in these comparisons to the good old days or whatever, when white male poets got together and, I dunno, got drunk and wrote poems in smelly wooden booths. Not to toot my own horn—and I’m not even curating the events anymore, just advising—but EARSHOT has been going for nearly seven years. And while I’ve gotten some nice blurbs and bytes here and there, the NYT has never bothered to investigate the community aspect of that series, or other series like it. It’s not as sexy, I guess, which is a shame. The idea that a literary scene needs a gimmick or has to follow a trend or must be invite-only, in order to get attention, is something that’s never felt kosher to me. Interest from the outside will inevitably fade; it’s the writers themselves who need to get together and support each other. And that being said, thanks to Rohin for the shout-out. An EARSHOT alum!