...related to my reading tomorrow night, 5/17, in Newburgh.
Tomorrow evening, Weds., 5/17, I’ll be taking part in a special edition of Ken Foster and Julie Chibbaro’s Night Cap Reading Series at a fantastic Cajun restaurant called Mama Roux, in Newburgh, NY. What makes this edition of the series special is that it celebrates the 10th anniversary of the publication of Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving & Leaving NY.
Somehow without my realizing it, it also became an evening celebrating Oldster Magazine, another of my newsletters (sort of the flagship of Botton, Ink.), which in a way makes more sense, because other than me, none of the writers featured tomorrow night are included in that NYC anthology of mine, but they’ve all written for Oldster Magazine. Lucy Sante took the Oldster Magazine Questionnaire, Vanessa Mártir wrote an essay for the magazine, and Laurie Stone has a column there.
But I chose these readers because, like me, they’re all NYC expats, and have been writing about that experience. What’s more Lucy wrote one of the essays that inspired me to put together Goodbye to All That in the first place, and she’ll be reading from it at Mama Roux. (More on that below.)
I so love collecting voices around a theme, and I can’t stop doing that around this one, especially after the pandemic prompted so many more New Yorkers to pack up their apartments and head upstate. Despite having published the original anthology in 2013 with 28 essays, and a subsequent edition in 2021 with seven new contributions (by: Leslie Jamison, Ada Limón, Emily Raboteau, Rosie Schaap, Carolita Johnson, Danielle A. Jackson, and Lisa Ko), I’m afraid I’m still not done with this topic.
Some people applaud that. Some roll their eyes. It’s become a bit more of a joke than I’m comfortable with that for both better and worse, every writer has a “Goodbye to All That” essay in them, in the vein of Didion’s iconic 1967 piece about arriving in the city at 20 starry-eyed, and leaving at 28 bleary-eyed. I should probably stop caring about the jaded eye-rollers and just keep going with my exploration of this topic, because it still calls to me.
Here’s the irony I teased in the headline: In 2011, when I was putting together a proposal for Goodbye to All That, before I knew I’d land at Seal Press—a publisher whose slogan at the time was “Books by and for women”—the first writer I reached out to was Luc Sante. This was ten years before Luc would transition genders, and start going by Lucy. I loved his New York Review of Books essay “My Lost City” and emailed to ask if I might reprint it in the anthology I was proposing. He kindly said yes.
But, as I mentioned, publishing with Seal meant including only women in the anthology, so I wasn’t able to use the essay. Now, here were are a decade later; Lucy has transitioned, and if I were to reissue the anthology yet again, I could include the piece.
I highly doubt Seal Press would re-re-issue the book, but you never know. If they ask me to update it again, the first thing I’ll do is ask if Lucy would let me reprint “My Lost City” after all. That would really bring things full circle.
But for now, I’ll just be grateful that Lucy agreed to read an excerpt from the piece tomorrow night, alongside Laurie, Vanessa, and me. If you’re in the area, please come! It will be a great evening.