Today, stuff yourself on envy and/or nostalgia for the NYC literary life. First, whet your appetite on the New Yorker’s gorgeous illustrations of notable bookstores, including one “the size of a luxurious Park Avenue closet.” Continue to a responsible main course essay on Choire Sicha, The Awl, and the Brooklyn loft building where it was founded and resides: a place that is “pleasant” but “a little dumpy, too, because that’s sort of our MO.” For dessert, savor Erin Loeb’s personal essay on leaving New York, and finish with a fittingly varied cheese course of other writers also saying goodbye.
The deadline for DIAGRAM’s annual essay contest is fast approaching. Past winners include Peter Jay Shippy’s “Goonies: or Wallace Stevens's 'The Snowman'--an Essay in 7 Films” and (my all-time favorite) Cheyenne Nimes’s “SECTION 404 OF THE CLEAN WATER ACT AND THE SANTA CRUZ RIVER SAND SHARK, SUBTITLED ‘THIS TROUBLESOME REGULATORY CONSTRAINT’.”
It is well known that Vladimir Nabokov and Edmund Wilson had one of the more visible falling outs in literary history over the former’s English-language Eugene Onegin translation, and indeed the history of that relationship’s souring is fascinating. But even still, it’s extremely interesting to read Nabokov’s nine-page “Reply” to Wilson’s “adverse criticism.” If nothing else, one has to wonder what Wilson was thinking when he brought a knife to a gun fight.
Recommended Reading: Lydia Davis's new short story, "Old Men Around Town," in the New Statesman. "He stops to tell us that he must be up early in the morning – to get down to the factory. The factory is gone, his men are gone, but he still seems to be in charge of something." For more Davis, check out her new collection.
The Table 4 Writers Foundation was founded in memory of Elaine Kaufman, a larger-than-life literary personality and hostess who supported NYC writers at her restaurant for many years, and awards grants to promising writers for unpublished work. The 2014 winners have just been released, and their prizewinning work can be read online. There will also be a gala in honor of the winners on April 30 in NYC, and tickets can be purchased here.