to mcnally jackson for a granta evening with some charming brazilians

we are feeling Terribly cosmopolitan and serious and Literary and thoughtful and quite moved by the experience this evening at McNally Jackson with our Brazilian novelist friends under the auspices of Granta (now edited not by our former colleague from The Independent Mr. Jack, as it was when we last checked the masthead, but by the charming American, John Freeman, with a learned yet inclusive authorial love of writers and their work.

In a recent interview he said:

“Reading’s a private, intimate experience. But to know what it feels like to read a book you haven’t read, you need to have someone write to you about it, which is what a critic does: explain what it feels like to spend a few hours inside a book.”

tonight’s event was no exception – a small, intimate experience – downstairs at the bookshop – with a handful of literary critics and some deeply charming writers in town from the Iowa Workshop, some of them from Brazil, in fact, where tonight’s evening took our focus.

oh, it was Most Enjoyable.

but our favo(u)rite moment was when the novelist J. P. Cuenca took command of the microphone and started to read…..

unlike other readings that we’ve attended, the author seemed a tiny bit unfamiliar with his own material (we had a similar experience once when a Celebrity was reading from her widely reviewed roman a clef and seemed to have come to the page fresh, as it were, and was heard to remark after “I must read it, that bit sounded really good.” You had to be there. Or not)

And then we realized what was going on!

J.P. Cuenca was reading someone else’s translation of his original work which was, of course, in Portuguese.

it all made sense.

because for a split second, we got Rather Confused.

may we share a paragraph or two from the Granta edition of J. P’s (may we call him JP?) work?

The word ‘community’, a euphemism for favela used for decades by journalists, samba composers and sociologists, became synonymous with cultural patrimony deserving of protection, manifesto, patronage by the state, walls. It always was or may yet be too late: the favela is still at war. It discovered in itself the restorative nostalgia for the Rio de Janeiro of the golden years of the bossa nova and, for some, the military dictatorship – a longing for the past that, until then, was the exclusive property of the retired crowd living in carpeted apartments at street level.

p. 220 Before The Fall, J. P, Cuenca
– Granta: The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists

isn’t he a Glorious Writer?

after the reading and discussion there was a general milling about and some flirting over the books-in-translation

what’s that?

why yes, we Did ask a Question – thank you for asking.

what was it about?

oh! happy to oblige.

it was about Brazil’s relationship to Portugal today with regard to literature and language and J P’s answer was curious and wonderfully physically illustrated with some strong hands illustrating how “savage” the refined former colonists now find Brazil’s way of mis-treating and cutting up and making-musical and changing and not respecting and turning inside out and up and over and through into Something Very New – Thrilling response indeed. We did enjoy it.

when we walked out of the shop two Brazilian writers stopped us and said:

a Very Good Question.

and we nodded in a Terribly Literary way to say thank you (because we thought it was a very good question when we asked it and we were Ever so pleased at the theatrical physicality of the response with flashing dark eyes and the word SAVAGE wrung out of a gutter-al-lower-range. wonderful).

we slipped out quietly and walked down the street, musing on the evening.

as we turned down onto lafayette we saw the single red light bulb denoting the passageway down into the depths of Pravda and smiled back towards the bookshop. It looked like the milling around the vinho tinto was going to be extended into a late night of Passionate discussion about Literature and Rio and favelas and military supervision and the rise of Brazil and the necessary nature of writers and………yes………the novelists and writers-from-Iowa seemed ready to settle in for a long, late night.

not for us.

we needed to write to you.

*now don’t forget to buy your copy of Granta: The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists from McNally Jackson itself (Greg – if you’re reading this – we’re sending you a copy tomorrow in the post to celebrate your most recent trip to Rio – we heard it was utterly splendid).

UPDATE:

darlings – look who “re-tweeted” us!

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Gosh.

You go to bed and wake up with laurels.

How nice.

new life: day 2

so, um, we’re not sure how to talk about our new life – or rather the in-between-bit of our  life – the gap the moment that is no longer the life-we-had-in-NYC since 2006 and the life-we-will-have-in-LosAngeles (which will be, we are assured by friends more Experienced in such Matters, will be Quite Different to the Life-we-had-in-LosAngeles from 2001 – 2006).

you can tell we’re confused ;-)

and who wouldn’t be.

we’ve Transitioned to a new role (“special advisor” which sounds delicious and helpful and in-between-ly) at the skyscraper (and thus not In the Skyscraper anymore) and will be doing a little Consulting (rather curiously interesting projects) and going onto An Advisory Board (so sophisticated!) and also taking a “producer credit” (for doing something real, not the “associate producer credit” that Mamet mocks in State & Main, darlings) on an international television production.

we’re also doing a lovely project and photographing all the People we Love on the East Coast before we Leave.

and we’ll probably have to come clean about who we are (due to the imminent book-shopping-of-our-picture-book).

But, darlings, in the meantime, we sent a text (so modern) to a Friend who is also transitioning (not gender but life-stuff) and said:

there’s a movie set in Chinatown that’s shooting near your house – want to go and find it?

YES!

meet you outside the coffee shop then tomorrow – early.

fab.

we met on the corner.

you’re a sight for sore eyes.

which is always lovely to hear ;-)

and we made our way around the block to find the Movie Set (it’s the new one from Cedric Klapisch and we were hoping to see the lovely Cecile De France but clearly she’s not in the Scene with the Chinese dancers in a playground with blue ribbons).

so no CDF but we think we spotted a lot of the French film-crew (this being the bit set in the USA of course there was a NY-based Unit as they say in Hollywood), it’s so hard to tell when everyone, despite their country of origin wears Levis or Diesel jeans, Converse and puffa jackets. apart from the man in boat shoes and shorts and we have a feeling he had an associate producer credit anyway.

then we both walked back around the block, took a few more pictures and settled onto a handy wooden bench as the world was waking up and talked while sipping from white to-go paper cups and slipping into the dark embrace of caffeine.

so good to start the day with hope, talk of Latin America and Rome and new beginnings and love and ideas and what’s-next-who-knows (pause for effect, nervous laughter, sipping of coffee, smiles, re-settling into hope once more).

a perfect morning for day 2: new life.

and then, en route to home, we stopped into mcnally jackson to see what today’s reading companion might be and there he was:

and we were thrilled to see other people have lives that include reading-in-bookshops as soon as they open too.

especially good to see other people like sparkly footwear.

we may purchase some sequin-ette-pumps ourselves.

we used to have a pair in Los Angeles.

and maybe we will again.

darlings – we must dash – phonecalls to make, people to see, a tea at the St. Regis with a writer-chap-we-admire-greatly (perhaps more on That Later, if he allows us to divulge our conversation) and then The Ballet.

gosh.

this new life is rather Marvelous/marvellous/miraculous.

And – if we’re being Totally Honest – a bit scary.

gulp.

 

 

 

 

re-shelving nancy mitford @mcnallyjackson

darlings

does it still count as the dog days of summer*?

or now that the (fake) fur collared chunky knit sweaters are in the shop windows and the light dimmed a little earlier than we expected this evening, surely this means fall (or autumn) is on its way?

we had a lovely day. did you?

it started later than usual (jet lag/L.A time) but there was a lot of reading, some excellent swimming (so odd to be back in the lane with a slick black swim cap on, next to thrashing young athletes in goggles, after a week of rooftop, long’ish hair back in a low ponytail and the freckles joining up, blushing at the sun’s attention, creating a light yet attractive tan), just a small amount of socializing and then some hunting for a new book to read.

amusing dialogue in the bookshop just now.

man-at-information-desk: “have I read The Ice Storm?”

teamgloria: “no. who wrote it?”

(although we were then dying to ask – well, yes, have you? and did you see the movie first and then buy the book – like we did? wasn’t S Weaver Extraordinary in her mid to late 70s carmen roller-done-hair-do? have you ever been to CT and been stuck in an actual ice storm? we have. a few years ago. on boxing day or st stephen’s day or the day-after-christmas-day. there – on the train platform – a bloody great ice storm started chucking it down and we ducked onto the train as soon as it arrived, grateful to be drying off and out of the dangerous ice floes falling en route back to manhattan)

man-at-information-desk: “Oh.” (unless he was psychic – and that is possible – this is a Very Good Bookshop – he heard none of our intense in-head-dialogue – he checked the computer instead) “Rick Moody”.

teamgloria: “Right!” (looks around slightly helplessly, with jet lag).

man-at-information-desk: “Rick Moody: The Ice Storm: American Literature, Rick Moody: The Diviners: American Literature…” (he reels off all of the Rick Moodys in the shop).

teamgloria: (bit desperately now) “Where is American Literature?”

man-at-information-desk: “I’ll show you.” (he stands up – a tall glass of water indeed, as they say in TX – and marches off towards the back of the store).

teamgloria (much smaller legs, hurries behind) and they stop short in front of all the Rick  Moodys on offer.

and – bizarrely – a Nancy Mitford.

we picked The Diviners and then (helpfully) re-shelved the Nancy Mitford, back in English Literature (although if there were an Expat Section, we would have placed her there as she lived mostly in Paris, as you know. That’s Paris, France, not Paris, Texas).

gosh. just noticed. British and Irish Literature. That’s odd. in NYC there’s such a focus on Irish Ancestry that an entire section is usually given over to the Emerald Isle. Hmmm. Interesting.

we had some more amusing (to us) dialogue on the way out….

cashier: “would you like a bag?”

teamgloria: “no thank you” (pointing helpfully to swimming bag and across-the-shoulder-messenger-bag in black from elizabeth street)

cashier: “here’s your receipt – would you like a bag?”

teamgloria: “um, no thanks” (mad pointing again)

cashier: (hands over Rick Moody book) “oh god, I was just going to ask you if you wanted a bag again”

teamgloria: (backing away gently) “i’m going to go now”

cashier: “have a beautiful night!”

teamgloria: “you too!”

(clearly he was from California – probably Santa Cruz – he had that sort of sea-salt-sun-bleached curly hair – New Yorkers are firm and dismissive with the traditional parting shot of “Have a Great Night” which is sort of a demand and quite clipped – but we could be reading too much cultural significance into this exchange and, let’s face it, that wouldn’t be the first time we have.)

the heat was stifling today so we’re sure the bookshop people were quite frazzled and tired (and the lovely thing about mcnally jackson is that it stays open Very Late which is so useful when you’re lying at home on the sofa and it’s too hot to sleep, even with the AC on full blast which feels so Awful for the Environment and life Would Be So Much Better with a copy of an Italian fashion magazine so one pops down there and buys one and sips an Italian soda with a slurp of raspberry cordial in it – refreshing, both).

Then with all that thought of Paris (Nancy Mitford and her place of residence for many years), we went to Cafe Gitane, sat at the zinc-top-bar and had a delicious frothy coffee (we can do that late in the day because tomorrow is another holiday in the USA and we can stay up into the small hours should we so desire – of course that will make tuesday hard – but to quote the one in the red shoes – right? – (Tuesday) is another day)

on the way home we saw that someone with a delicious sense of fun (or vandalism, depending on your Voting Pattern) has been In Town while most of the middle classes (and those with actual money) are far away in the beach towns and expensive-handbag-shops, trying to get a reservation for supper before a last hurrah by the ocean with the liberal application of aloe vera on that sunburn.

we’re sure Nancy would have stifled a giggle as she was walking a small dog, a bag of books from the Lending Library in a cloth bag from Marseille, hanging loosely over the crook in her left arm.

*talking of the dog days of summer: our lovely friend and concierge-to-the-hip-chic-and-time-pressed, Jonathan, told us about a short story competition – the details are here – we’re going to enter – are you? it’s not the prize so much (although we Adore a Prize) but the idea of being in a short story collection that is left in every room at a Standard Hotel (where such rock star types stay) is truly delicious.

the only problem (and let’s face it, it’s a luxury one and Quite Modern as William would say) is which name we’ll use…………gloria nimbus (for tis the name on one of our emails), or teamgloria (which is sort of becoming an actual Brand – if the book deal comes off) or the original name we were published under as a journalist (which we don’t use at all anymore but is the one on our British Passport) or the name we use professionally in our soon-to-be-ending Corporate Job in Corporate America?

gosh.

such choices.

and such a metaphysical and modern dilemma.

;-)

off to see some unfeasibly good-looking-french-people now.

It’s here! The manhattan of fashion insiders #nyfw

Voila!

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The secret anonymous insider has released her second genius moment in paper form: the manhattan of fashion insiders

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Full of deliciously insider information and divinely inspiring tips….

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We bought our copy en route to the Crosby hotel to meet a V Glam brunch guest (you can get yours at McNally Jackson on the clever interweb-ness.

Divine.

Just in time for the influx of impossibly svelte Paris-based fashion editors eager to sink into a swingy chair at Sally Hershberger (aren’t we all, darlings) for a shag (British friends, don’t blush -that’s a Meg Ryan haircut to you, love).

to Bowery (with, not on) a bicycle: an art gallery, a Lorca reading and the fresh issue of Monocle.

JFS (not his real initials, but a conglomeration of how we think of him with regard to a sartorial-ness that must remain subtle and unexplained) said:

would you walk with me to a gallery closing on Bowery?

like a closing night at the theatre?

oh

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Ah. Not exactly. But we loved it. It was very fresh and young and vibrant (we Were Somewhat Mystified by the Art, tis true)

we don’t quite understand anything post Fragonard in paint or Norman Parkinson in print

JFS had to lean down (he is Exceedingly Tall) to catch that last remark. He blanched a little, beneath his manly rugged beard, but was kind.

And the best bit was we walked together as he leaned on the handlebars of his old-fashioned blue bicycle (basket and all). And we were Charmed (reminded us of walking through the Quad all those lifetimes ago, talking earnestly about Plutarch.)

Talking of things ancient and modern, the conference we went to yesterday was in a beautiful space with quite Lovely light fixtures.

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And we were so culturally inspired by the Bowery “happening” that we found ourselves taking the long way home and stopping into McNally Jackson for a fresh copy of Monocle and a few moments in admiration at the delicious voices reading Lorca and others (in the Original) at the Spanish literature group downstairs. Transporting.

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And then – quelle joy! We arrived, chez nous, and found a bulky and Most Promising envelope from England.

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Darling W sent a mix tape of mr. M. Almond (shades of twisted torch songs and trying to scam a Gauloise outside a seedy dive in vauxhall at two AM).

We awoke late this morning. Most Refreshed after a long week in the salt mines of Corporate America and made coffee and lay gently back to enjoy Monocle magazine before encasing ourselves in a chic leather jacket, a spritz of Chanel No. 5 and strolling to therapy.

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Now we know the idea is to Grow and Deepen and Change (in therapy) but we have to admit that Some of the revelations (post Tobias and surgery and so on) are not Entirely Pleasant.

Hmmmm.

Of course, tis the first time we’ve actually been Honest with a professional (and we have definitely encountered a few in our Time).

little italy: angels, st anthony and recipe for apple crunch

had the loveliest morning in little italy – all angels (see the one with gloria on her), watching aged and beautiful italian women heading to mass at old st patrick’s cathedral, coffee and fran lebowitz at mcnally jacksons, the morning-after-the-night-before streets of mulberry were covered in rice and confetti and other gifts from the feast of st anthony.

what a glorious place on a hot summer sunday in may.

he is audibly tan

he is audibly tan
Fran Lebowitz

The next best thing to having coffee with Fran Lebowitz (and a member of my inner circle once did, in the mid-70s), is reading her. Vintage just bought out a new edition of her classic musings and I broke my cardinal rule and bought a media-savvy-re-themed-re-issue.

But she looks magnificent on the cover.

Here at mcnally jackson on mulberry waiting for the vintage flea market to open. Got up early to take photos of the morning after the night before as Little Italy brushed off its collective hangover from potent liquids and cream cakes after the parade of st anthony. Will post these later……