Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

The Strand dollar bin and more news from New York

with 4 comments

Over the past week, New York City has seen three exceedingly rare events: an earthquake, a tropical storm, and a visit by me. And while my recent trip, thankfully, wasn’t something that happens once in a generation, it’s still less frequent than I would like. I lived in New York for seven years, moving there right out of college despite never having spent more than a few days in the city, simply because I figured, as a writer, that it was the only place in the world to be. Perhaps inevitably, it was only after I left two years ago, moving to Chicago to be with my wife, that my writing life finally began to resemble the one I wanted. But I still miss New York and the time I spent there, so it’s always a pleasure to go back.

If there was a center to my New York life, it was the dollar bin at the Strand Bookstore. My own suspicion, confirmed by long experience, is that every book in the world, no matter how unusual or rare, turns up there sooner or later—usually just after you’ve bought it somewhere else. For years, then, on a weekly basis, I would take the train to Union Square and browse in the Strand dollar bin for an hour or so, nearly always emerging with some unexpected find. And although inflation has increased the price of certain hardcovers to $2, my visit last week was as productive as usual: in half an hour, I found a copy of Nancy Arrowsmith’s classic Field Guide to the Little People, a book I remember fondly from my childhood, and, even more remarkably, the anonymous Mediations on the Tarot, a book I’d been hoping to pick up for years.

And while a visit to the Strand alone would have more than justified the trip, it wasn’t the only reason I went to New York. One of my closest friends, the poet and memoirist Katy Lederer, is getting married at the end of the year, and her engagement party seemed like a good excuse to fly out for the weekend. At the party, in addition to Katy and her fiancé Ben, my wife and I got to hang out with Katy’s dad, the legendary Richard Lederer, author of Crazy English, Anguished English and many other classic works on language and wordplay. I devoured his books growing up, and I’m pleased to report that, in person, he’s exactly what you’d hope him to be: funny, garrulous, a fount of jokes, trivia, and sharp observation. I’m looking forward to seeing him again at Katy’s wedding.

On the business side, I also had the chance to catch up with my agent, who had some updates on The Icon Thief and its sequel. Now that the cover art and copy have been finalized, the next step is to go out to readers for potential blurbs, which we’ll be doing in two stages over the next few months. My publisher will also be printing advance readers’ copies soon, which is very exciting. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of pushing forward on House of Passages, the final draft of which is due on September 30, and laying the groundwork for a possible third novel, a tentative synopsis of which I’m hoping to finish shortly. All in all, the next few weeks promise to be exceptionally interesting, with a move to Oak Park, a novelette, and possibly a couple of surprises. Check back soon for more!

Written by nevalalee

August 29, 2011 at 9:43 am

4 Responses

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  1. The Strand Bookstore sounds like bargain book hunter’s paradise. If I ever make it to New York, I’ll be sure to visit the $2 bin. :-)

    C.B. Wentworth

    August 29, 2011 at 10:26 am

  2. Trust me—it’s heaven on earth…


    August 29, 2011 at 10:41 am

  3. surprises?!? baby on the way? congrats!


    August 30, 2011 at 11:06 pm

  4. That would be a surprise.


    August 31, 2011 at 7:32 am

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