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Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Beauty, Truth, and The Girls: An Interview with Emma Cline

July 19, 2016 | by

Emma Cline.

Emma Cline’s debut novel, The Girls, may be loosely based on the Manson murders, but it isn’t really about Manson at all—it’s about the women around him, those attracted to life at the edge of the world. Though the book circles around the blunt facts of Manson’s crimes, it sidesteps the particulars, reducing him to a pitiful, failed musician named Russell whose only talent is tending to his wilting garden of devotees. Instead of dwelling on him, the novel follows fourteen-year-old Evie Boyd, who’s increasingly enthralled by one of the older girls in Russell’s circle.

Cline, a winner of The Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize, writes with the kind of beauty the painter Agnes Martin once described as “an awareness in the mind.” “Marion,” Cline’s story in the Review’s Summer 2013 issue, opens with the line, “Cars the color of melons and tangerines sizzled in cul-de-sac driveways.” The Girls is set against a dreamy, at times abstracted, California landscape. Her descriptions shimmer on the page: trying to mimic a girl she admires, Evie stands straighter, “holding my head like an egg in a cup”; a teenage boy’s room reeks of masturbation, “a damp rupture in the air”; girls are “swampy with nostalgia.”

Though she’s encouraged by the warm response The Girls has received, Cline eschews the public eye. “I’m used to the isolated part of writing, the part where you’re doing a lot of work alone, in solitude,” she told me. When we spoke on the phone last month, she’d just landed in LA for a reading. I asked her how long she’d be out West. “Just another week or so,” she said, “and then I’m at large.” Read More »

Three Geographers

July 7, 2016 | by

oldmap

Martha Hollander’s poem “Three Geographers” appeared in our Winter 1992 issue. Her latest collection is The Game of StatuesRead More »

The Empress of Gowanus

July 7, 2016 | by

Two trees grow in Brooklyn.

Empress tree.

Empress tree.

Lately I’ve come to love the empress trees that stand at either end of the Union Street Bridge, which crosses the Gowanus Canal, in Brooklyn. The pair aren’t much in winter, but come spring their canopies grow heavy with grand cascades of lavender flowers. The display is especially remarkable because the canal that flows beside the trees is polluted by heavy metals, pathogens, polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and other suspiciously unpronounceable toxins. Whatever perfume might drift from the purple blossoms is instantly overpowered by the rot that wafts from the canal’s murky, iridescent waters. Read More »

In the Restroom at the Walter Reade Theater

June 16, 2016 | by

In Brushes with Greatness, Naomi Fry writes about her relatively marginal encounters with celebrities.

Coppolas

Sofia Coppola and Francis Ford Coppola.

In 2014, the magazine In Touch broke what is still, to my mind, one of our era’s most quintessential gossip stories. The weekly claimed that Lindsay Lohan was holding court at the Beverly Hills Hotel and, in an apparent attempt to impress her retinue, wrote out the names of three dozen of her sexual conquests—most of them A-list Hollywood celebrities such as Justin Timberlake, Colin Farrell, and Zac Efron—then tossed the list aside. A mistake, obviously, since that was likely when one of the entourage pounced, retrieving the sheet and eventually getting it into the hands of an In Touch staffer. The magazine reproduced the list in Lohan’s all-caps, American-middle-school-girl handwriting. Read More »

New York Values

May 26, 2016 | by

O’Hare International Airport. Photo: Cory W. Watts

The same day I ate the hot dog—indeed, the same layover—I found myself in conversation with a group of other travelers. One commented on the crowds, and another said, “Tampa’s not a small place but it’s nothing like this,” and they all talked about the energy of the city versus the pleasures of having moved to Florida. It was very friendly. Then one woman said, “Not New York, though. I hate New York.” Then they all piled on with gusto, discussing the general crumminess that is New York, the rudeness, the filth, the overwhelming pace, and all manner of other clichés. It all happened so fast that I didn’t have a chance to jump in and defend my hometown.

I didn’t even have a defense, as such. People from other places seem to feel New York is a thing they need to have strong opinions about, like the election, or cilantro. And the truth is, most of us really, really don’t care. At least, those of us who are from here. Never having made the choice to move here, it’s akin to the affection and irritation one feels for a family member. Especially since our families are, you know, here. Read More »

Cleaning Up New York

May 10, 2016 | by

Cleaning is a two-way street. There is you (the cleaner) and there is the street …

Vintage Hoover advertisement.

A vintage Hoover advertisement.

I cleaned for Sylvia Smith two or three times last year. She lived on East End Avenue in a studio apartment that was falling apart from being recently built. She edited a trade magazine. She would only have me every so often when things got really out of hand. Her kitchen included defrosting the refrigerator and cleaning the oven each time. First I had to get the dishes out of the way. She used cheap tin silverware that was once painted gold but the paint had chipped away enough to leave it mottled tin. The advantage of this silverware was that she had enough pieces to supply a munitions factory and could eat for weeks without needing to wash a spoon. Although the apartment was always very dirty, Sylvia always wanted a fastidious job from me. This is really impossible to do the first time around on a dirty apartment.

It would take at least two cleanings to really bring every surface to clean clean status. Sylvia would always detain me at the end of my day with short imperatives like, “Clean this shelf please.” “I think you missed something here.” I performed my duty by being patient and thankfully escaped after much courteous bowing. Sylvia was a person with a need for sleeping pills. Next to her bed was a prescription bottle, which I sampled. Read More »