Bookish NYC

This week’s post was delayed because…I went to NYC with my younger sister! And because I’m me, the trip included some literary highlights.

For one, I fulfilled a life goal of visiting the main branch of the New York Public Library. The building is beautiful (even if the famous lions flanking the front were under wraps for cleaning), although the experience felt kind of crowded and touristy when not there to read, research, or partake in the primary goals of a library. Still, libraries have always felt like sacred spaces to me and it helped that this one looked like an actual cathedral.

We also took in a play, a new drama on it’s opening weekend on Broadway (which I didn’t realize until we were there but it made for an extra bit of squee). The Sound Inside stars Mary Louise Parker and Will Hochman, in a work written by Anthony Rapp and directed by David Cromer. Parker plays an isolated creative writing professor, Hochman her awkward student full of literary ambitions. Together their individual loneliness creates a complex alchemy. It’s a wordy, pensive play that asks questions about creativity; selfishness; the power of literature; the lines between self and persona, between fiction and reality; what teachers owe to students; and what individuals owe to each other. It asks if what feeds the soul—art, literature, creativity—can also starve the rest of life. I’m still chewing on it, thinking about it, haunted by it even. I’m so, so glad we stumbled onto The Sound Inside instead of a more typical offering like a musical (which, I love musicals, but this was a uniquely special experience).

Debriefing and marinating in the play after the show.

I also hauled my sister to the famous The Strand bookstore with its purported miles of books.

There I browsed and also picked up one small souvenir for my water bottle.

And I snagged the novel mentioned in The Sound Inside, James Salter’s Light Years, which Mary Louise Parker’s Bella says she reads every year, usually in the autumn. I haven’t read any Salter previously and so far it’s a mesmerizing dive into the beauties and indignities of family life with some deeply beautiful writing.

Do you think this is what the airline meant by the pocket being for literature only?

In addition to bookish highlights, we ate good food and absorbed amazing works of art and curated collections. My heart-brain overflowed after the second day. I am home and both sated and inspired.

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