Tagged: Susan Sontag

Letters To No One In Particular, #1

At some point today I realized I kept checking the news blogs, as I often do, during the day, in a way that was like how I used to read three newspapers in the mornings, when I first lived in New York. Then, it was a kind of ritual before writing. At a certain point my interest in the papers would fade out, and I’d walk back to my apartment, close the door and write. It was done partly, I think, to calm me down. A tremendous anxiety sweeps over me as I drink coffee in the morning, as if the day is this thing I’ve woken up under, and I have to find the strength to push it off me and walk free.

I remember when I first lived there, I had a job cataloging the contents of a warehouse of used gay and lesbian books that A Different Light had acquired. I went out on a train to Queens and worked alone there in the dusty shelves, ticking off collectible copies of Mrs. Dalloway and The Gardener—sometimes it seemed like those were the only books in the whole building. The warehouse had been the stock of a mail-order gay and lesbian book order business, someone who early on would send you a lesbian pulp novel in a brown paper wrapper. The entire stock of the business had been bought at auction. On the train, I remember finding someone’s newspaper, a copy of the Daily News, and it mentioned a shootout at a bar near the warehouse. A man had pulled a gun and seven men in the bar also had guns. A terrible shootout occurred, and many people were killed. I got off the train and thought, that seems like a good thing to know.

So I began to get the Daily News. As well as the Times. And then someone mentioned the Keith Kelly Media Ink column in the Post, so I started to read that as well. I grew to love the rhythm of it: Page 6, Cindy Adams, Liz Smith. I liked how each paper seemed to have its own specialty. I liked the prismatic effect of reading a story covered in all three papers, differently. I read the crime blotters, noting the crimes and the neighborhoods. I remember one particularly grisly day, when I changed trains after reading that in the station where I normally got out, they’d found the remains of a woman in different garbage bags placed inside different garbage cans on the platform.

It was the C, E station in Clinton Hill. I remember I tried to remember, if I’d thrown anything away there as I went by, over the weekend previous.
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