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A Requiem for Secondhand Books

by 07/01/2011
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village, West Village

She: I want to buy you a good book for your birthday. He: What would I do with a book? Buy me a new body! —Conversation overheard between a man and a woman. When I think of second-hand books, I think quite literally of anonymous fingers reaching out to me from beyond the grave. I […]

The Bookie

by 07/01/2011
Neighborhood: Flatbush

I attended elementary school in a non-descript brick building across the street from Mostly Books, whose humble proprietor, Sandy Tishcoff, was our local celebrity sighting. He was an unlikely one, spending his hours squinting at a microfiche mounted on his desk, from which he would divine book orders in the days before Add To Cart. […]


by 05/12/2008
Neighborhood: Lower East Side

On Saturday night I walked from my apartment on the Lower East Side over to Housing Works in SoHo. It was a little after 8:00 at night and my intention was to spend a few pleasant hours drinking coffee and reading Grapes of Wrath. It was also a way to give my wife some time […]

From Kobe, Japan to New York City (and Back Again)

by 04/11/2008
Neighborhood: East Village

I watched it from a high floor of our apartment building: a confusion of spotlights, protesters, and riot police. Some two thousand people that night were lunging toward our compound wall, shouting “Yankee, Go home!” Through a bullhorn, someone called us gaijin, which technically meant foreigner, but was in actuality, closer to “gringo.” While the […]

Sharing Vectors with Jesse Lee

by 03/07/2008
Neighborhood: Chelsea

“Do you know–” “Of any sports bars around here?” I interrupted. The towering man paused, chapped lips parted in a bewildered grin revealing white teeth caulked with white material. “You looking for one too?” “No,” I said, “you asked me that last week.” We stood this December afternoon on 22nd off 6th. Last time, 19th […]

I Am Not a Crook!

by 02/10/2008
Neighborhood: Brooklyn

It was Richard M. Nixon who said it best when he uttered those immortal words: “I am not a crook!” For the record, he also said, “I have never been a quitter,” just before he resigned the presidency back in 1973. So go figure. I have always thought of crooks as cartoon burglars wearing Lone […]

Fitzmas Past

by 12/22/2006
Neighborhood: Upper East Side

Last year, after the indictment of Dick Cheney’s chief-of-staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Maureen Dowd wrote a column praising the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald. “It was bracing to see the son of a New York doorman open the door on the mendacious Washington lair of the Lord of the Underground.” At first, I was gratified […]

Thirteen Moments From Kate’s Paperie

by 06/04/2006
Neighborhood: West Village

Elisha Cooper, our staff illustrator, spent two weeks, though December 22, 2000, sitting at a small table amidst the bustle of Kate’s Paperie in Soho; he sat there all day in front of a stack of his book, A Year In New York, signing and drawing (everyone who bought one got a small portrait of […]

Back Room Clown

by 06/04/2006
Neighborhood: West Village

It is the dulled, flat end of the summer; a warm Saturday night in the West Village, September, 1982. It is 4 a.m. We who had fawned and flounced and guzzled and still received no takers in the gay bars this evening have resigned ourselves to last-minute comfort in the bowels of the Christopher Street […]

Hood Books & High Culture

by 05/22/2006
Neighborhood: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

What if books are the new crack? In the 80’s, Bed-Stuy had crack. Now, we’ve got literature. The New York Times publishes plenty of articles on the fluctuations in Bed-Stuy’s crime rate, and on the neighborhood’s gentrification, but they are not reporting on this: literature. Perhaps it’s not fit to print. I make my modest, […]

The Community Bookstore

by 09/16/2004
Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Carroll Gardens

Another gourmet bakery opened on Court Street in Cobble Hill; the old sheet music shop was replaced by a cell phone store; the bodega next door went out of business last week, and today the new owners are gutting it and lining the walls with shelving made of a thick, smoked glass. It seems that […]

Bonnie Slotnick’s Cookbooks and the Feminine Mystique

by Thomas Beller 10/21/2001
Neighborhood: Manhattan, West Village

I like food, and I like books, but I’m not that into books about food. So when a friend of mine suggested we visit a great new store that sold old cookbooks, I was reluctant. Eventually, though, I got curious about the woman I saw sitting behind a busy desk in the window of Bonnie […]