Say hello to Henri, the Existential Cat.
So much has been written about New York City as a city of histories—rich and public, deep and private. Commerce and bodies ebb and flow. For every New Yorker, there is a ghost city under the tangible one; this second, invisible layer contains the tangled web of memory and geography. I certainly have my fair share of associative ghosts; we all do. But New York City is also a city of forgetting, for better and for worse, and often against our best wishes.
“After scanning across this listing while doing cursory research for something else, I instantly became obsessed with the idea of the zebra skin in the library. What, exactly, did it look like? How was it stored amongst his papers? Why had he owned it? What was it doing in the special collections of an academic library?” On looking through the archives of William Gaddis.
“Imaginary Oklahoma” writes Oklahoman writer James McGirk, “is an anthology of forty-six writers’ attempts to envision Oklahoma without ever having visited America’s forty-sixth state.”
George [Plimpton] recalls early offices of the magazine, angering Ernest Hemingway with brash interview questions, the many volunteers who flocked to the Review and gave a fledgling publication a boost. He writes of raucous Revels past: “The Revels were memorable affairs, with so much effort spent by staff members in entertaining the guests that very often the fund-raising aspects of the events were forgotten. The extravaganza on Welfare Island (although 750 people turned up) actually lost money—and primarily because a piano was left out in a glade and was ruined in a post-party rain squall.
The Paris Review profiles the Grolier Poetry Book Shop, located in Cambridge, MA and one of two all-poetry book stores in the nation. And speaking of bookstores - if you’re visiting Boston for AWP 2013, Ploughshares has got a whole list of literary landmarks for you to explore.
[Image via The Paris Review.]
“‘Think of yourself standing in the middle of a whiteout and then suddenly the white is blown away by a giant fan and everything’s clear and you can see for miles and miles,’ she said, and so I tried, but truth be told I have always had a tough time shutting my eyes and seeing myself. All I could do was smell Dorothy’s hair and feel her shoulders through her sweater; all I could picture was the one tiny button, looped with silk thread, at the nape of her neck.”
I had dreams about tornadoes. I dreamed of houses collapsing, people searching through rubble for dead bodies. Most of these dreams involved watching a large tornado in a field as it moved directly toward me. Like the scene early in the film The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy looks out the window and sees the tornado approaching, that sense of doom is always present in my dreams.
On January 8, 1981, Isabel Allende wrote a letter to her dying grandfather that later turned into her first novel,The House of the Spirits. Ever since, this has been the date on which Allende starts a new work. Having started, she writes from Monday through Saturday, from 9:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. We wish her happy writing and hope to profit by her industrious example.