At PEN Gala, Rushdie (With Lakshmi!) and Shteyngart Bemoan Demise of Book ReviewsThe T. Rex cantilevered over the famous writerly heads at the PEN gala last week at the Museum of Natural History supplied a metaphor too crushingly obvious for any of the assembled literary luminaries to use. Which didn’t make it any less valid: With one daily newspaper after another dropping book coverage, the world of letters hasn’t felt this vulnerable since the first TVs flickered on. “Literature is going the way of this dinosaur!” proclaimed a very trim Gary Shteyngart. “Wait, Salman Rushdie has already said something like that, ” he continued. “Let’s elaborate. Hang on. If the literature is the dinosaur, then the creeping national illiteracy is the meteoric event that Okay, this is not working. I can’t be pithy with my clothes on.” Within minutes, Rushdie himself arrived, accompanied by supposedly estranged wife Padma Lakshmi. His take on the book-critic shortage: “When I was starting out, any novelist’s debut, no matter how small, would get reviewed across the country. I would hate to be a young writer right now.” Letting Lakshmi get momentarily lost in the crowd while he finished his point, Rushdie added, “But let me tell you, it’s a dangerous game. The newspapers that are cutting people’s attention to reading may be cutting their own throats.” —Michael Idov
it happened this week
Taking It Easy
There was something inspiring in New Jersey governor Jon Corzine’s insouciance last week: rising from his deathbed, paying a photo-op $46 fine for violating the seat-belt law, and then speeding off toward home at 70 miles per hour. His predecessor, Jim McGreevey, nonchalantly announced that he planned to study for the Episcopalian priesthood (in laid-back Chelsea, no less). New York governor Eliot Spitzer raised reelection funds in California; fellow Dems back in Albany grumbled about his sudden devil-may-care attitude toward campaign-finance reform.
Youth, Weather Wasted on the Young
Could there be a better day to take your boat for a walk? Students at Eugene Lang College the New School for Liberal Arts spent all semester building a boat they christened this morning. They built the Quixotic near Union Square and then pushed it west to Pier 40 (shown here on West 11 Street crossing Sixth Avenue). Ain’t the liberal arts grand?
‘Times’ Couplets: Finally Over That Whole Tea-Party ThingWherein we arrange Times headlines in verse to bring you secret truths from the paper of record.
Back in U.S., Queen Celebrates Ex-Colony
Hopper’s America, in Shadow and Light:
Sometimes You Can Go Home Again.
Confusion and Deception as a Royal Family Affair
In a New Space and Time, a Classic Story of Tragic Love,
Family Values, Betrayed.
As the Climate Changes, Bits of England’s Coast Crumble
Away From Her– Time’s Wounds. And the Heart’s?
Yankees Find Just Enough to Get By.
Will Stuy Town Be Reborn As Luxury Condos?Carroll Gardens: Retired parents get bored with the suburbs and move here. There goes the neighborhood. [The Brooklyn Paper]
Downtown Brooklyn: Tillary Street might have a bike lane, but you can barely see it under all the cars. [McBrooklyn via Brooklyn Heights Blog]
Greenpoint: Horrifying new trend: tossing your smoke detector out back when it starts to beep, instead of just changing the batteries. [Newyorkshitty]
Harlem: An agent for a newish co-op was canned after his employers found out he was also using the place as HQ for a stripper and escort service. [Uptown Flavor]
Park Slope: Get ready for another tower on the corner of Carroll Street and Fourth Avenue. [Gowanus Lounge]
Stuyvesant Town: There’s a rumor going around that Tishman Speyer wants to tear down this middle-class enclave within five years and replace it with 150 luxury condos. [Curbed]