N. Y.C.: Tales of the City —
A Reading from Three Novels
Sunday, Nov. 20, 11: 30 a.m.–12: 30 p.m.
Auditorium (Building 1, 2nd floor,
JW: Fortunately, people are too kind
to tell me what they like least about
my book, and I tend to not read reviews, especially negative ones. I don’t
think reviews are helpful because
they’re for the particular book [that
you just published], which, if you
don’t plan to write again, the editorial
notes from critics don’t really matter,
right? Many people love what the
story evokes for them. It’s different for
different readers, but the ones who
love it have a deep emotional connection to the novel.
agree with the general book criticism
culture; we judge books on whether
characters are likable or relatable, not
whether the artist has done a noteworthy job representing a particular
point of view.
I thank God I live in a cosseted
world where I never read reviews of
anything, including other people’s
books, on the Internet.... I have a social media page full of exchanges with
readers that keep me feeling humbled
and grateful, and that is plenty.
relationship with young women who
are desperate to figure themselves out.
TM: A lot of raw matter of my own
life the past 20 years is woven into
Christodora—mental illness, addiction, HIV, struggle, recovery, relapse,
re-recovery. And, on the lighter, or at
least the more productive, side, art,
activism, friendships and family ties,
sex, romance, disco, and clubgoing!
JW: I am represented by every single
character in Another Brooklyn, from the
nurse at King’s County Hospital to
the people of Caviteño to the Nation
of Islam brother stopping the family
on the street. It is very hard to write a
book and not put yourself in it.
What are you hearing from your
readers about what they like
most—and least—about your novel?
SD: It’s the same thing, Tess’s voice.
People either understand her, or they
don’t. It is equally jarring to hear from
someone, “Tess is me,” and “That
wasn’t what I was like at 22.” I don’t
TM: They like that it’s an intensely
emotional book with characters they
become completely consumed with
and sometimes angry at, but also feel
protective of, and need to know how
everything turns out for them. They
love that the characters are deeply
flawed, but also human and capable
of great moments. Some [readers]
struggle with the disconnected first
several chapters, while others say
they like that because the first third of
the book is a bit like putting together
Tim Murphy ©Chris Gabello