Today’s New York Times is making me wish for another vacation, just a few short weeks after I returned from an 8-night Caribbean cruise. What could cause this enthusiasm for a NYC winter solstice getaway? No, it’s not the Christmas tree in Rockfeller Center. Or even the 52 degree temperatures and constant drizzle… it’s this article in the travel section about literary Manhattan. I’m nostalgic for places I haven’t really been!
I yearn for the cafés and bars where the literati (past and present) elevated (and sometimes degraded) discourse. The Café Loup sounds excellent. I’ve actually seen Jimmy’s Corner, near Times Square, and avoided it, not appreciating its seedy charm. Now that I know the folks from the NYT Book Review congregated there, I recognize how very shallow I was. Dive, indeed.
Bookstores, of course. On previous vacations, I’ve blogged about my visits to The Mysterious Bookshop (Otto Penzler’s famous store) and Partners & Crime. I’m glad I got to visit the latter. It was a pleasure to shop there and I felt a pang when I read, just a few months ago, that it was closing. I assume it’s shuttered now. And of course, The Strand and its 18 miles of books! It’s been there so long, it used to be just 8 miles of books. Now there are so many books they are double-shelved.
And, of course, hotels with a literary connection. I’ve stayed at the Algonquin Hotel. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 100 years since Dorothy Parker and her literary posse gathered there daily. I loved its convenient location, and thought the bar – and live music – was excellent. They also have a hotel cat, which ups the experience. The Chelsea is famous not only for its literary connections, but has a strong history of strung-out rockers. But I’m drawn to the new and enticing Library Hotel, located just steps from the actual NYC Library. They not only have 6,000+ books on site, they’re organized around the Dewey decimal system. They have a reading room, complimentary breakfast and a complimentary evening reception, plus free wi-fi. A quick check of their reservation system shows that it’s not outrageously priced. By NYC standards, that is.
And if I needed any further inducement, I could go see My Name is Asher Lev on Broadway. Love the Chaim Potok book on which it is based! It’s getting awesome reviews. As are Steppenwolf’s Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? A major inducement.
And there’s a new musical coming out soon, Matilda. It’s based on the Roald Dahl book. Oh, I’m sure that the days would be packed, if only I could go…