I have long dreaded this sight--the windows of St. Mark's Bookshop have been emptied of their books. They have left Astor Place.
While I'm happy to know the bookstore is surviving, moving to 3rd Street off Avenue A, I am not happy that it will no longer by there to greet me as it did for two decades. Through my whole New York life, those windows were my constant, my compass.
After a difficult day at work, after a class, coming from the 6 train or the N/R, walking home down 3rd Avenue in snow, in rain, covered in summer sweat, through the miserable crowds, I knew I could stop at those ample windows and look--and I knew that just looking at those books would bring me back to center. Gazing through the glass, taking in the titles, the authors, the covers, I could feel my blood pressure pleasantly descend, spreading a sense of calm through my body and mind. Those windows were a daily balm.
Standing there, I could imagine all there was to read and write. I could imagine that one day my own book would make it into those windows (that never happened). So much possibility! So many ideas!
What will greet me next in this space? A brainless bank, a soulless Starbucks, a fucking frozen yogurt emporium? Surely nothing that will be the medicine that was St. Mark's Bookshop off Astor Place.
Until that more dreadful day, they have left us with "A Final Sonnet" by Ted Berrigan. It begins with the line: "How strange to be gone in a minute!"
The long story:
St. Mark's Success
Michael Moore at St. Mark's
An Open Letter to Cooper Union
Buy A Book Weekend at St. Mark's
Xmas in September
St. Mark's Vestibule