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Author Archive

Lysley Tenorio, New York, New York

January 17, 2014 | by

A series on what writers from around the world see from their windows.

Lysley Tenorio (the Standard)

From room 1006 at the Standard, East Village, you see a white-faced clock overlooking a small triangular park. A sea-green dome ringed with small arched windows is partly blocked by a boxy rectangular building, faded and plain except for the cross on its south-facing wall. On the rooftop hangs a single line of laundry. Straight ahead is a building, wide and blank as a wall, that nobody seems to enter or exit.

If you don’t live in New York, you might not know the names of these buildings or their significance, how they function in the city, what they mean to its people. But this is the gift of being somewhere new, in a place that will never be home. Everything is defined by your first impressions. That sea-green dome, so out of place and time, might house things both ancient and futuristic—rusted astrolabes on the shelves, side by side with next generation iPads. The crucifix could be the final remnant of a failed church, the original cathedral demolished decades ago, replaced by a building full of a thousand cubicles. That white-faced clock, the brightest thing at night, may very well be the front of a crime-fighter’s headquarters or a supervillain’s lair. That line of laundry, winter-damp and flapping—those are the clothes of a dead man who had no loved ones left behind to gather them. And directly across, that building is lifeless as ever, but someone is inside, waiting to be glimpsed, you’re sure of it. All you need to do is wait. —Lysley Tenorio

Lysley Tenorio is currently the Paris Review Writer-in-Residence at the Standard, East Village.

 

2 COMMENTS

Taiye Selasi, Rome, Italy

October 4, 2013 | by

A series on what writers from around the world see from their windows.

Taiye_Selasi

This summer I wrote my first ever article in Italian, considering why the Eternal City lures so many expat authors. In my limited Italian, I proposed three reasons—the beauty, the warmth, the un-ambitiousness—all of which come to mind when gazing at this view. When the sun begins to slip behind the gilded greens of the Janiculum, I’ll stare at the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, breathless every time. The sheer beauty of this ancient city—the scale of its churches, the density of its trees, the pastels of its facades, the voluptuousness of its clouds—is on full display from here.

My watch is the clock atop the Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere, adding its chimes to the cheerful din of chatter, car horns, laughter. There’s never a dull moment in the Piazza of Santa Maria in Trastevere; one can sense as much as hear the joy of social gathering. But it is Rome’s imperfection that I find so beguiling, an invitation to play: seagulls squawking, nonne bickering, paint chipping from the walls. —Taiye Selasi

 

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Lidija Dimkovska, Skopje, Macedonia

September 6, 2013 | by

A series on what writers from around the world see from their windows.

Lidija_Dimkovska

My late childhood and entire youth window. I began to write in front of this view, and while I am here, I still do, at a low, small table. On a typewriter then, on a laptop now, but preferably in a small notebook with lines.

I look outside often; the pictures have become very familiar. Two brothers used to live in the building with their families and their old mother, a small, tiny woman in black who always was screaming at her grandchildren, often beating them or running after them. They also were screaming, and that noise was present in the air until the parents would come home from work. Later, I found out that they moved the grandma from the first floor to the cellar, where she died. One of her daughter-in-laws was Serbian; once, the Serbian woman sent me and my friends to the shop to buy her a special orange juice, Fructal. She opened it, and for the first time in my life I tried this juice that my family could not afford.

The roof of the building was always in my view. In the mornings a stork would come to the chimney on the roof and look through my window. We looked each other in the eyes, and we understood each other. He was my sky, I was his earth’s friend. It was impossible not to write. —Lidija Dimkovska

 

3 COMMENTS

Andri Snær Magnason, Reykjavik, Iceland

August 9, 2013 | by

A series on what writers from around the world see from their windows.

Andri_Magnason

This is my window. Or my windows—the view from my living room, where I sit and write. Might not seem very inspiring. I wish I could offer green mossy lava, roaring waves, a glacier mountain top. I do have other spaces—in an abandoned powerstation, a favorite fisherman’s cafe by the harbor, a summer house on the arctic circle—but this is my honest view, what I really see most of the days. This house was built in the 1960s when people were fed up with lava and mountains; they were migrating to the growing suburbs to create a new view for themselves. The young couple who dug the foundation with their own hands dreamed of a proper garden on this barren, rocky strip of land. They dreamed of trees, flowers, shelter from the cold northern breeze. What is special depends on where you are, and here, the trees are actually special. They were planted fifty years ago like summer flowers, not expected to live or grow more than a meter. The rhododendron was considered a miracle, not something that could survive a winter. It looks tropical, with Hawaiian-looking pink flowers; Skúli, the man who built the house and sold it to me half a century later, took special pride in it.

I am not a great gardener. We are thinking of buying an apple tree, though they don’t really thrive in this climate. I would plant it like a flower, not really expect it to grow, and hope for a miracle. —Andri Snær Magnason

 

11 COMMENTS

Rebecca Walker, Maui, Hawaii

July 12, 2013 | by

A series on what writers from around the world see from their windows.

Rebecca_Walker

I have been looking out this window for three years. I have stared out of these rectangular panes full of hope and also despair, giddy with inspiration to connect and overtaken with a throbbing desire to disengage. I suppose this is what writing is to me: gripping the rope that swings between reaching out and pulling in.

But whatever my mood, I always love the light beyond this window. I love the quiet. I love my two empty chairs, sentinels awaiting their visitors, open to the promise of more. I feel at home in this spot, on this road to the small village of Hana, on this tiny piece of rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I love the rain that pours down, thunderous and crashing, before sunshine, harsh and stunning, pierces through once again. —Rebecca Walker

 

26 COMMENTS

Tatiana Salem Levy, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

June 7, 2013 | by

A series on what writers from around the world see from their windows.

Tatiana_Salem_Levy

Although I have an office in my apartment, every day I wake up and take my laptop to the dining room table. The view from my dining room has an amplitude that takes me away, and when I write I need the feeling that space and time have no end. I can’t stand writing in enclosed places, nor having just an hour to work.

When I sit at the table, the morning is still quiet; I hear one or another child leaving for school and the birds that often come to visit me at the window. That’s when I write best, inspired by the imbalance and the irregularity of the buildings in front of me. Then, throughout the day, inspiration will fail. I get up and lean on the window to see what I can’t see while seated: a huge mountain to the right with a statue of Christ on top. In silence, I start talking to the man with open arms until my thoughts get lost and I decide to go back to the chair. And so my days elapse, between the table and the window. —Tatiana Salem Levy

 

1 COMMENT