GOD Almightie first Planted a Garden. And indeed, it is the Purest of Humane pleasures. It is the Greatest Refreshment to the Spirits of Man; Without which, Buildings and Pallaces are but Grosse Handy-works.
—Francis Bacon, from his 1625 essay, “Of Gardens”
I open the garden on the morning of November 4, after sixteen hours of poll work the day before, sure Trump will be re-elected. The lawn is scattered with red and yellow leaves. The late roses are wan and bedraggled as chiffon ballgowns after a hard night of dancing. Shocking purple aconitum are the finale—their hood-shaped blossoms (hence their popular name, monk’s hood) visible from fifty feet away. The twisted apricot tree is filled with warblers; this English garden in Brooklyn makes a classy pit stop on their way to Guatemala.
On the Friday of LitFest, Amherst College’s annual literary festival, The Common Editor in Chief Jennifer Acker sat down with Jennifer Egan, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, among other accolades, to talk about crime, place, and “timely” writing. This is an edited version of that live interview from March 1, 2019.
Resisting the Path of Least Resistance: An Interview with Jennifer Egan
Friday, September 14, 2018 – 7 p.m. at Leonard Library, 81 Devoe St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
with Andrés Cerpa, Francisco Font-Acevedo, Carmen Graciela Díaz,
Joey de Jesus and Carina del Valle Schorske
September 2018 marks one year after Hurricane María devastated the island of Puerto Rico. This event features contemporary Puerto Rican writers of both poetry and prose sharing new creative work and discussing how the ongoing crisis has transformed our styles of survival, our experience of diaspora, and the function of translation. Readings will include a bilingual element to fully represent Puerto Rican linguistic diversity.
Puerto Rican Writing: One Year after María @ Brooklyn Book Festival
The best garden in Brooklyn is like Fred Astaire
Charming but inaccessible.
A private creation for public viewing.
I look down into it from my living room,
Its spilling vines and spruce hedge-tops lend cachet to my garden.
Yet a high fence keeps us
As does the rusty chain link gate on the street side,
which is only opened for
Tree-trimming and the like.
Love reading The Common and want to see our staff’s smiling faces in person? Stop by our table at the Brooklyn Book Festival this Sunday, September 17 from 10am-6pm at Table 347 in front of the courthouse. We’ll be giving away a special, tasty something while supplies last! For more information about the Festival marketplace and all the events and authors, visit www.brooklynbookfestival.org.
Here at The Common, we’re all about place, so we’ve been experimenting with more ways for readers to experience the locations of our pieces. Using this map, you can explore all the dispatches we’ve published set in New York City. Get to know Eli the Seltzer Man, the nighthawks on the Upper West Side, and more!
This July and August, I stayed at my friend Sarah’s apartment in Brooklyn while she and her family were in Vermont. The original plan was that I would cat-sit their black cat Buster, but they had a mouse problem at their Vermont place, so after ten days or so, they drove back into the city to reclaim Buster and put him to work.
My mother’s last remaining sibling is dying, and quickly, it now seems. I received the call last night from my mom and exchanged emails this morning with my cousin but didn’t really have time to think about it until the subway ride in from Brooklyn to Grand Central this morning.She is walking, still, and planning a trip to the San Diego beach in June (it keeps Eros alive, my uncle once told me with a wink, and in a case of too-much-information to share with a niece) but one eye won’t quite open and her speech isn’t coming out correctly and the body of my aunt Stana seems to be collapsing, her skin folding over itself, in response to the cancer.
I live a few blocks from a cruise ship terminal. When ships dock there, they tower above the nearby buildings, which top out at four or five stories high. At night, their decks and windows glitter in neat rows, like high-rise apartment buildings, as if downtown Manhattan has suddenly been pulled close. When the ships finally depart, their horns boom dramatically, out of place in my quiet, unassuming neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn.