We have “Don’t Honk” signs?
(Photo: Michael Appleton / The New York Times)
"When it’s no longer possible to tell what attractive young women are reading, part of the romance of Manhattan is gone. It’s time to move to Sheboygan and open a deli."
Underground Library regulars, I salute you.
UNYPL in 2012: The Regulars
It’s about to be a full year that I’ve been blogging the Underground Library. It’s been a year of so many discoveries and experiences. One discovery I had may seem plain, but it felt profound to experience it through photography. I discovered that a reader is… a Reader. In looking for people who were reading, I found that they were there as a kind. Books weren’t just an item they had with them. They were indications of a larger relationship that defined them. When I posted a reader whom I had photographed twice, someone commented that it was like a love story. I like that and I agree. Readers are in love with the world around them, and their relationship with the books that reveal it to them is an enduring one.
Here are four readers I happened to see twice over the course of the year. Regulars of the Underground Library. From top to bottom.
- When I first saw him, he had started reading “New York,” by Edward Rutherfurd. More than a month later, I saw him again when he was almost done with it.
- I saw her in the summer, when she was reading “Consider the Lobster and Other Essays,” by David Foster Wallace. On a recent cold morning I saw her again, still with David Foster Wallace, but this time reading his ”The Broom of the System.”
- One of the first readers I photographed, I loved his hat and glasses. Last year he was reading ”Killing Time: The First Full Investigation into the Unsolved Murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman”, by Donald Freed. Eleven months later, I recognized him because of his hat and glasses. I wasn’t sure why I recognized him, until sure enough, he took a book out of his bag. This time he was reading ”Sidney Poitier: Man, Actor, Icon,” by Aram Goudsouzian.
- I first saw him late one night, when I was tired and on my way home. But Jack London wasn’t yet in the Underground Library, so I took my camera out and photographed him. Early in the morning a month later, I was tired again when I saw him again, enjoying another story in ”To Build a Fire and Other Stories,” by Jack London.
We were the second flight to arrive at JFK. From the half-full plane we pressed ourselves against the windows, murmuring about what we could see of the Rockaways, and how close the water had come. When the plane landed we broke out into scattered applause. I saw tears.
The lights were still dim, and there were a few airport maintenance workers who had pulled their seats into a circle so that they could talk and share breakfast. Downstairs at the empty baggage claim we managed to make our way to the B-15 bus, which meandered its way through poor neighborhoods until ending its line somewhere in my own slightly less poor neighborhood.
For a year I’ve been threatening to leave. For a year I’ve been escaping to rainy cities, London and Seattle, my legs unquenched. But when the rains came it was only you I wanted, Brooklyn, you with your relentless dirty streets and your soggy grasses. From far away, watching the deluge, I wanted to dive into the wreck. My ancestors came on a boat and I came by air.