“For about 15 years, every time I had a really good dance party that went late, with people lolling around drunk and exhausted, at about 2 a.m., I would hand out paper and ask everyone to draw a vomiting cat. . . . I ended up with an incredibly thick file of drawings, some by people who went on to be published cartoonists and writers.” The New York Times reports that (Year in Reading alum) Jonathan Lethem has sold his papers to Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, a trove that includes comic books, manuscript drafts, notes, letters, and yes, drawings of vomiting cats. You can read our review of Lethem’s Dissident Gardens, which may or may not feature hairballs in a crucial plot point, here.
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.
At The Collagist, Kyle Beachy imagines the emperor Augustus saying to the poet Horace, “You and your kind are fucked!” “The Extent of Our Decline” is one of number of essays appearing in the collection I co-edited, The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books, coming in March from Soft Skull.
“Historians, I believe, are dedicated to fighting against the tide of our social amnesia. The reason they continue to write books about the Holocaust, or Appomatox, or the earthquake in Haiti, is to try to help us remember the suffering and the extent of the damage. Some try to humanize, and others turn to abstraction.” Stewart L. Sinclair writes on burying the remnants of disaster, over at Guernica. Pair with his Millions essay on technology and Apple’s operating systems.