NY in the Summer

The other night, despite my headache, I went out to Lincoln Center to see Midsummer Night Swing — not to participate, just to check out its new location at Damrosch Park (it’s usually held on the Lincoln Center Plaza but with all the construction, they relocated it for this summer). I think it’s actually a much better location than the Plaza. There’s much more space to set up food stands, sell drinks, and there’s even a nice little gelato place in the front. And there’s tons of space in the park’s wide walkways — far more than on the crowded Plaza — to dance without having to pay the $15 to go into the bandshell’s dance floor (which is probably why they don’t normally hold it here).

Anyway, Dance Times Square (Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin’s studio) is going to be hosting this Thursday’s lesson and performance. According to the schedule the dance is Swing. Go here for the full schedule.

Also, in preparation for spending the rest of the summer revising my novel yet again (hopefully for the last time) and working on some other smaller things, I’ve been going to readings, many of them outdoors. Here are a few:

A discussion by debut novelists (from left to right) Charles Bock (whose book, Beautiful Children, I’m reading now), Stefan Merrill Block (whose book I want to read next), Sophie Gee, and Ceridwen Dovey moderated by biggie Random House editor (and novelist) David Ebershoff, in the Bryant Park reading room.

Gee had an interesting idea: she’s an English professor at Princeton and teaches 18th Century lit, which most of her students, she said with humorously self-deprecating woe, take only to meet their period requirement. Tired of getting dead stares and snickers when she exclaims how fascinating is some of the literature, like Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock, she decided to rewrite the story, for contemporary audiences. Definitely want to check it out.

Jonathan Miles reading from his debut novel Dear American Airlines at The Half King in Chelsea. He is surprisingly soft-spoken and with the acoustics in the pub it was very difficult to hear him. I used to love going to readings there but they’ve got to either turn down or off the pub music while the reading’s going on or get better padding for the door separating the bar from the restaurant reading area (and then prevent people from constantly leaving and entering). I personally think they should just open everything up, turn off the music and put the reader’s mike on all speakers; let the damn boozers listen to a 30-minute reading for cry-eye!

Junot Diaz (Pulitzer prize winner for “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”) and Aleksandar Hemon read together at Central Park’s Summer Stage, and the place was very happily packed. This area’s normally used for bands, so very exciting for a couple of writers to fill it up. That was an excellent reading and discussion (albeit, at a little over two hours in length, a bit short). I think all writers going on book tour should take reading lessons from Diaz; he’s by far the liveliest I’ve ever heard. In response to an audience question about why some authors get so much public attention and seem unfairly more popular than others, he said you can’t worry about how the work is going to be received by the public as you’re writing it; you don’t write for the present, you write for the future.


  1. Hey Tonya,

    I only recently read that you’d finally left the practice of law to work on your novel and write dance reviews. That’s terrific. I’m proud of you for following your passions. I know it probably wasn’t an easy decision to make, but you go girl!!! The USA is probably the greatest country to live in at this particular point in history for many people to follow their dreams; it hasn’t always been that way, but, hopefully, this will continue.

  2. I’ve just read Junot Diaz’s collection of stories Drown and now I’m about to start Oscar Wao. He’s coming to my town in the fall, so I’ll make sure to go to his reading.
    Dancing outdoors is the best!

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