If you're a reader of this blog, chances are good that you give a shit about the city. You've probably helped fight a lot of battles to save the New York places you love from destruction--and most of the time the fight has been lost. It gets depressing. But this time, we won the fight. This time, I won't be posting about another vanished East Village icon, because St. Mark's Bookshop is staying right where it is.
That is cause for celebration. It means that winning is possible and it's not all for nothing. Victory? I'm not sure what to do with this unfamiliar feeling. I want a party or something. I want to give St. Mark's Bookshop a big kiss. And the best way to give St. Mark's Bookshop a big kiss is to buy some books. You can go in person or buy online.
The last time we had a Buy a Book Weekend, the bookstore's sales went up by 30%. Let's do it again this weekend. From today through Sunday, go buy a book--or more--and give St. Mark's a big, sloppy, wet kiss of "Congratulations." Besides, you deserve it for helping to save this irreplaceable part of the city's vanishing culture. Go treat yourself to something good!
Here are some New York-related suggestions:
The Long-Winded Lady by Maeve Brennan is one of my favorite books of all time. Her "prose snapshots of life in small restaurants, cheap hotels, and crowded streets of Times Square and the Village" are all from the New Yorker's Talk of the Town when it used to actually be about the town. There's only one copy left in stock--who will be the lucky winner?
The Suburbanization of New York is available as a remainder for only $9.98. The title is self-explanatory and it was one of the first books to name the monster that is eating the city.
Another favorite of mine--one I've read and reread--is Saul Bellow's The Victim, a tight, psychological novel in which "a young man is sucked into the mysterious, heat-filled vortex of New York City." Fantastic.
I have not yet read Lucking Out, James Wolcott's memoir of the 1970s city, but it's on my list. A quote: "How lucky I was, arriving in New York just as everything was about to go to hell.”
If all you've read of Richard Yates is the masterpiece Revolutionary Road, go deeper. I've read all his books and, while not equal masterpieces, they're so much more satisfying than a lot of fiction being published today. St. Mark's has Cold Spring Harbor, The Easter Parade, and Young Hearts Crying on their shelves right now.
No New York library is complete without some Frank O'Hara. Start with the Selected Poems. Walking the city will never be the same. Read him along with next-gen New York School poet Eileen Myles--they've got Skies on remainder for just $6.98.
Finally, it's not New York, but St. Mark's just got in The Complete Record Cover Collection by R. Crumb, and the East Village's own Eden and John of the East River String Band made a short film to help promote the book. Check it out here: