Last Thursday, NYRB Classics presented an evening of New York Stories, past and present, at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City for the 2010 PEN World Voices Festival. There, a remarkable panel of Quim Monzó, Darryl Pinckney, Roxana Robinson, and Colm Tóibín tackled the complex relationships that Henry James, Edith Wharton, and Elizabeth Hardwick had with New York City.
For those unable to attend the panel, we are pleased to provide this link to the complete audio of the program. The audio is provided courtesy of New York City’s public radio station, WNYC, and its program, “Talk To Me”, which records and brings cultural conversations to the public.
“Talk to Me” also choose some bon mots from the evening…
On James: “The narrator wanders in the city and wonders how she could possibly inhabit 53rd Street. ‘When I turn into it from Fifth Avenue the vista seems too hideaous.’ ” -Colm Tóibín
On Why Writers Write: “I think all writers really start off feeling like outsiders, and that’s part of why we all write — because we’re trying to reconcile some feeling of marginalization and some feeling of not being at the center of things.” -Roxana Robinson
On Hardwick: “She never went downtown, or to Brooklyn. She was not a bohemian adventurer like Susan [Sontag], off to see the latest avant-garde theater from Poland. And she was not a deep anarch like her best friend Barbara Epstein, who took no shit from cops and was quite prepared to get arrested.” -Darryl Pinckney
Monzó’s First Impression: “My idea of New York comes more from the movies than from novels. The first time I came to New York City, it was 1975 and I felt…I already knew the streets, the buildings. When I went down to catch the train, I already knew all that because I’d already seen all those items all my life.”