Tales of Toxic Mushrooms and Dirty Bombs in New York

In jc-as-graphicmy latest piece for WNYC, novelists Jill Ciment and Adam Sternbergh reflect on New York real estate, iconic scary movies, and what it would take to bring the city to a standstill.

Sternbergh’s new book Near Enemy and Ciment’s novel Act of God each imagine strange disasters befalling a New York City of the future.

If you missed it on the radio, you can listen here.

The Steve Jobs of the Renaissance: Meet The Man Who Set Books Free

I was on The Takeaway on Monday talking about Renaissance publishing innovator Aldus Manutius and why technophiles like Robin Sloan consider him the Steve Jobs of his era.  Manutius, who died in 1515, is the subject of a 500th anniversary exhibition at the Grolier Club in Manhattan running through the end of April.  The story’s also airing as a feature on WNYC.Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 10.06.24 PM

A Night at the Brooklyn Museum

10171194_10101691225457436_1695760793926855948_nThank you to everyone who came out to the Brooklyn Museum for a night of conversation with Yelena Akhtiorskaya (Panic in a Suitcase), Jason Reynolds (When I Was the Greatest), Mark Chiusano (Marine Park: Stories) and Evan Hughes (Panic in a Suitcase)!  It was fantastic to see WNYC join forces with the Brooklyn Book Festival.

UPDATE: The audio from the full event is now online here: http://www.thetakeaway.org/story/brooklyn-bound-writing-kings-county/

Brooklyn Bound: Writing Kings County

Mark your calendars for September 18th!

I’m thrilled to be hosting an interactive discussion on literature, identity, and geography at the Brooklyn Museum in a special WNYC Brooklyn Book Festival Bookend event.

The event is called Brooklyn Bound: Writing Kings County and it centers around writers past and present who have taken inspiration from the expansive borough.

The evening will feature Evan Hughes, author of Literary Brooklyn: The Writers of Brooklyn and the Story of American City Life), plus three emerging writers whose work focuses on three distinct Brooklyn neighborhoods. Yelena Akhtiorskaya‘s debut novel Panic in a Suitcase is set in the Brighton Beach of her immigrant childhood; Jason Reynolds writes about the pressures of life in Bed-Stuy in his young adult novel When I Was the Greatest; and Mark Chiusano (Marine Park: Stories) examines the far reaches of the borough in his new collection of stories.

See WNYC’s events page for details and tickets. I hope to see you there!

Authors_BKBF_Borders_400

Kitty Genovese: How a Famous Murder Helped Create the 911 System

IMG_3075On a bracingly cold morning this March– exactly 50 years to the day after Kitty Genovese’s death– author Kevin Cook and I met on the block in Kew Gardens where Genovese spent her last living hours.

Cook’s new book, Kitty Genovese: The Murder, The Bystanders, The Crime that Changed America looks back at Genovese’s life and death in detail. His investigation focuses in particular on what happened the night she died.  Spoiler alert: It’s a little more complicated than what you might’ve heard (or read in that intro psychology course, for that matter).

We also stopped in on some longtime residents of the neighborhood.  Carol and Murray Berger moved into a charming home in Kew Gardens in 1957, and have been a vital part of the community ever since.  They were kind enough to invite me in and to share their remembrances of how Genovese’s murder transformed the neighborhood’s reputation.

Take a listen to my piece for WNYC here.  Check out The New Yorker’s take on Cook’s book here.  And see some lovely photos of the Bergers’ home here.

 

Hot Reads: Blood Will Out, The Fishing Fleet, Rebel Music

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 12.30.56 AMA little bit of everything in this week’s all-star line-up– grifters, gold-diggers, and Kool and the Gang. As usual, full reviews at The Daily Beast.  Bonus: Hear Hisham Aidi talking about Rebel Music (and take a listen to some of the music he describes) over at The Takeaway.

A Literary Walkabout in Gary Shteyngart’s Queens

GaryShteyngart004

In the brief interval between Polar Vortex I and Polar Vortex II, I somehow I managed to get in a leisurely amble through Queens with Gary Shteyngart.

We met at the Solomon Schechter School of Queens in Flushing and wandered through his old school playground before circling back to his family’s first apartment in Kew Garden Hills. Eventually we made our way to Main Street Cinemas, site of a certain memorable screening of Emmanuelle: The Joys of a Woman.

He told me many more hilarious stories than I could possibly include in this radio segment.  But I did my best. Take a listen to A Literary Walkabout in Gary Shteyngart’s Queens and enjoy the slideshow of the author posing in front of his key childhood landmarks.  Then go read his memoir, Little Failure.

Hot Reads: Tomorrow-Land, Leaving the Sea, A Highly Unlikely Scenario

Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 9.46.20 PM

A new year, new books! This week’s picks feature the cities of Cleveland and Dusseldorf, Pythagorean Pizza, and a whole lot of Robert Moses:

A little more than a week before the 1964-65 World’s Fair was set to open its gates in Queens, The New York Journal-American ran a front page story charging that the mural Andy Warhol had created for the fair—a mural commissioned by architect Phillip Johnson—depicted, quite literally, the city’s worst face—or rather, faces. Warhol’s painting featured 22 images of the city’s 13 Most Wanted Criminals, “resplendent in all their scars, cauliflower ears, and other appurtenances of their trade.” Within days, at Johnson’s suggestion, Warhol’s work was completely painted over. It wasn’t exactly censorship at “master builder” Robert Moses’s hands, but to Warhol, it felt that way. In frustration, he made a new painting, this one featuring 25 silk-screened images of the president of the World’s Fair Corporation.  He called it “Robert Moses Twenty-Five Times.”

Find the full reviews here.  And take a listen to author Joseph Tirella talking about Tomorrow-Land on The Takeaway here.