Monday, January 07, 2013

Streets ahead

My piece on Harry Mathews begins:

On June 19, 1997—a few weeks shy of my 27th birthday, and fifteen years nearly to the day that I am writing these words—I stopped by Book Ark, a used bookshop three steps below ground level on West 83rd Street in Manhattan, and bought my first Harry Mathews. 

It should be noted that Book Ark was on West 81st, not West 83rd!

The first footnote in the piece runs:

Or was I indeed already living in the tiny studio on West 81st, putting me within two blocks of my goal?

But I was living on West 83rd, not 81st! What does it mean that I mixed up the streets?

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

A new Keeler mystery

My review of P.G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters is now up on the Bookforum site. Thank you to my editor, Michael Miller, for forcing me to write it!

One thing that got left on the cutting-room floor: For the birth of my second child, the only reading matter I brought to the hospital issue of Bookforum! It was the one with Samuel Beckett wearing shorts on the cover.


I did a double-take when I saw (via Facebook) that I was in yet another issue of the Asian American Literary Review. Just yesterday I remembered that I had published a piece in the AALR called "Chinese Whispers: On Writing/Not Writing Asian American Literature." So what was this other article by me? It's "vintage Park"—my review of Harry Stephen Keeler's strange, wildly entertaining, ethnic-studies-ready Y. Cheung, Business Detective (1939). In the piece, I reflect on an odd resemblance it bears to a story by Nabokov. I'm happy to see it reprinted. (It originally appeared in 2000—remember 2000?—in issue 30 of the Keeler News.)

(This has got to be one of the worst Keeler jackets. But it's a terribly interesting book.)

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