Spaces that Feed the Writing Brain

McSorley's. 2003.

McSorley’s. 2003.

I just finished Dwight Garner’s “A Critic’s Tour of Literary Manhattan” in The New York Times (December 14, 2012). I’m smitten. I like heady romps through the bars and bookshops where original things take place. I swoon for the places that have suckled and bolstered many a writing generation, and it was Garner’s mission to see how active the scene still is. Certainly, tripping over leagues of high-pitched cookie-cutter blow dry girls on their way to clubs can shake your literary faith in our great city. But those types are always with us, and the thinkers drink elsewhere.

Among Garner’s list of writer’s haunts included McSorley’s, KGB Bar (so restorative, Sunday night readings there), Batali’s Otto pizzeria (imagine!), and the hilariously named Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe in the Lower East Side (wonder if San Juan-born Dr. V would deign to enter such a titled place).

I guess libraries were out of the running, as they don’t allow alcohol. Or any fluid, for that matter.

Photo: kgbbar.com

Even though my grandfather was functionally illiterate, my mother noted that he would have known who a writer like Steinbeck was. We have lost a lot of TV-time dedicated to current writers and musicians in the past to culture-killing reality TV shows. Leave it to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to highlight current thinkers and artists – let’s bring that back to mainstream. I don’t care who just cheated on whom and got sloppy drunk last night. I wonder if Hurricane Sandy happened a few years ago how that would have affected a show like Jersey Shore. Would it have been cancelled? Would the show’s producers have brought that reality to the show’s vapid viewers?

Read my related posts here on New York at Night and New York Calling: From Blackout to Bloomberg ( eds. Marshall Berman and Brian Berger, University of Chicago Press, 2007).

About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.