Literary Interviews in New York

Literary Tourist in New York 

It was interview day! First up was John Galassi, president and publisher of FSG, one of the great American literary publishing houses.

I’d read a good part of Boris Kachka’s Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, selected a quote from Stanley Unwin’s The Truth about Publishing to start things off, and primed myself with a battery of questions. The office is located at 175 Varick Street, between Lower Manhattan and Greenwich Village. While the facade of the building isn’t so impressive, unlike this one in the background

NYC building

its foyer has a cool art deco decor. I especially liked the lights.

Listen here to my conversation with Jonathan

After the interview I made my way up to The Met (remembering this time that one has to be aware that subway trains travelling uptown are caught on one side of the street, and those travelling down are caught on the other – it took me several days to figure out that you can’t cross 

the tracks underground, despite what the sign below says)

for a hastily arranged rendez-vous with John Carpenter, organizer of an exhibition entitled The Poetry of Nature: Edo Paintings from the Fishbein-Bender Collection. I was particularly keen to learn about the Japanese tradition of pairing images with poetry, and hoped he’d be able to tell me more too about Ukiyo-e prints. My appetite had been whetted by Dave Bull, the ebullient Canadian woodblock printer I’d met in Tokyo a month prior, and by my visit to the Hara Shobo bookstore in Tokyo’s Jimbocho bookstore district, where I’d been shown so many great Ukiyo-e prints.

Unfortunately a combination of my being told to stay in the lobby and John waiting up in the gallery conspired to keep us apart. By the time the paint had dried I only had 20 minutes to get to my next appointment, this one with the renowned author archives dealer Glenn Horowitz at his penthouse offices on W. 55th street, off 5th avenue.

Glenn has placed the archives of such literary giants as Tom Wolfe (NYPL), Norman Mailer (Harry Ransom Center), Gabriel García Márquez (Harry Ransom Center), Vladimir Nabokov (NYPL) and, however you care to categorize him, Bob Dylan (whose archive went to the University of Tulsa for between $15-20 million according to the New York Times). The conversation flowed, listen here to our discussion , and before leaving, Glenn set me up with an espresso and a catalogue extolling the virtues of dust jackets designed by Philip Grushkin, whose work I thought – and Glenn confirmed – bore a striking resemblance to that of George Salter.

Then it was back to Grand Central, onto the train, and up to Poughkeepsie and the car. Turned out to be a lovely evening

P.S. Didn’t make it to the Morgan Library or Poet’s House this time round, but I have in the past. Listen here to my conversation with Astor Cur­ator of Prin­ted Books and Bind­ings John Bidwell

and here to Program Director Stephen Motika

both places are are well worth adding to your New York City literary itinerary.

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