In 1979, New Directions moved from 333 Sixth Ave (where its building was being torn down to make way for a condominium), to its current location at 80 Eighth Ave. When I first came on board as an intern, the office had a tattered charm: the walls were dusty gray, paintings and bookcases hid cracks, and the overall atmosphere was of historical grime. But it is a historic office — many great authors have walked through its halls and have stood on the balcony overlooking lower Manhattan. Many of the employees can place fond memories in just about every nook of the office (where someone's hand was kissed by Tennessee Williams, or the unlikely location of James Laughlin's office (not the corner office!). Over the years there has been talk of giving new breath to the home of New Directions in the form of a new paint job. But it wasn't until this summer, after a few knockout publishing seasons, that the green light was given to allow the office the facelift it deserves.
It was decided to paint the offices two each per weekend. Every employeee was given a coat to choose for their space in colors ranging from "Quiet Forest" to "White Raspberry." That was the easy part. The actual task of clearing each office to allow the painters to completely coat the walls was daunting — books had to be removed from shelves; knick-knacks from desks, and portraits & memorabilia from where they hung. All went into containers — from cardboard boxes, to U.S. Postal crates to towering stacks — placed along the ever-narrowing hallway eventually becoming so thin that employees had to contort their bodies in funny shapes to pass through. During the process we discovered many artifacts that included ash trays from when it was still permissible to smoke in the office, flyers from events that took place in the 90s, letters and postcards, and the plant that one employee claims has been alive and thriving since 1971 — perhaps the longest employed member of the ND staff!
So here's to summer refreshment and thirty years and counting of publishing great literature from this office.
ND editor Michael Barron interviewed Elaine Lustig for Bomb's blog. Read it here.
May 2013 News from New Directions
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Rebecca Ariel Porte, in a beautiful essay written for the Los Angeles Review of Books, dicusses Susan Howe's Sorting Facts: Nineteen Ways of Looking at Marker, addressing Chris Marker's films, as well. Definitely worth a read — here.
Writing for Bookslut, Christopher Merkel reviews the 65th anniversary edition of the classic modernist text. Read it here.