Ben Sonnenberg (1936-2010)


In Memoriam

The Paris Review salutes Ben Sonnenberg, the founding editor of Grand Street, who died last Thursday at the age of seventy-three. He was a hero to many of us. Although Grand Street may never have had more than a few thousand subscribers, it was one of the great literary magazines of our time. Recently the artist Matteo Pericoli drew the view from Sonnenberg’s window and asked Sonnenberg to describe what he saw there every day. The view and text are excerpted from Pericoli’s book The City Out My Window: 63 Views on New York:

It’s a southwest-facing window and that means plenty of sunlight, a rarity in this city. The lower part of the view shows the roof tops of the small nineteenth-century houses that line West Seventy-sixth and Seventy-seventh Streets, a view pretty much unchanged since the time our building went up in 1927, and that is very pleasant. In the near distance is an apartment building contemporary with ours which has the merit of featuring an old-fashioned wooden water tower. Fortunately for my wife and me, the modern buildings of Donald Trump, with their ugly fenestration and hostile immensity, figure only in the distance. The glory of our view is the lordly, moody Hudson River, much reduced here in the middle-right. For the twenty-seven years of our marriage this has afforded us sunsets that on some days are spectacular, on others merely beautiful.