A Literary Quest on Lampposts

page 11Kathryn Kattalia The Local joins a search for the pages of a novel by an anonymous author that have been affixed to street lights, newspapers distribution boxes and elsewhere. Above, The 11th page of a mystery manuscript hangs on a lamppost on East 11th Street between First and Second Avenues.

I found page six.

Staring at a ripped, weathered and barely legible piece of paper haphazardly taped to the side of a graffiti-covered ATM machine, I let the weight of my victory sink in. Like a treasure hunter unearthing a coveted chest of gold, I had discovered what everyone else wanted to find. There on East Sixth Street, barely visible from the sidewalk, was the elusive page six.

Like almost every other blog in the neighborhood, The Local has been on a literary goose chase, tracking down pages of a mystery manuscript that someone has plastered to lampposts, mailboxes, streetlights and garbage cans throughout the neighborhood. At the bottom of each page, readers are told where they can find the next installment of the story, apparently titled “Holy Crap.”

Earlier this week, the New York Post reported finding pages 7 and 8 on lampposts in the neighborhood, as did fellow blogger EVGrieve. No one had located pages one through six. Always up for a good mystery, I decided to scour the neighborhood myself, choosing to start where the others left off. My goal was to try to find what no one else had.

But when I got to the lamppost on the corner of East Seventh Street and First Avenue where page 7 had first been spotted, I was greeted with disappointment. Nothing. Where had it gone? Had it been removed? Why?

After checking and double checking every lamppost, tree and mailbox on the street, peeling back lost dog posters and jumping at every stray piece of paper littering the sidewalk, I began to grow paranoid. Maybe someone else was looking for the manuscript too and had to decided to cover their trail by taking the pages along with them. Suddenly, this had become a race. I had to find page eight.

It wasn’t difficult to do. Walking down First Avenue, I spotted it posted to the bottom of a lamppost outside Stromboli Pizza at the corner of St. Marks. The scene was short—only a paragraph followed by a bit of dialogue.

page 6
page 8Kathryn KattaliaPages 6 and 8. Six was found on the side of a graffiti-covered ATM machine on East Sixth Street between First and Second Avenues. Eight was found at the corner of St. Marks Place and First Avenue.

“I hear footsteps come back in the room,” it read. “A gray plastic bucket is placed on the bed next to me. ‘For you,’ the woman’s voice says. ‘In case you barf.’”

What? I had to know what happened next. Following the instructions on the bottom of the page, I began walking toward East Ninth Street between First and Second Avenue.

But again, no luck. Page 9 was nowhere to be found. Worse yet, there was no clue leading me to page 10.

Now, I’m certainly no genius, but my pattern recognition skills were starting to set in. Someone else had found page 7 on East Seventh Street. I had found page 8 on St. Marks and page 9 was supposedly somewhere on East Ninth Street. Surely, logic follows, page 10 would be on, I don’t know, East Tenth?

Call me a super sleuth. After an hour of romping through the neighborhood, I had collected pages 10, 11 and 12 all located on their respective streets between First and Second Avenues. The story had taken an interesting twist. I was suddenly listening in on a conversation between two men discussing what it takes to run an underground literary magazine.

“Anyone can publish these days,” one character says on Page 11, posted high up on a streetlight. “Anyone can write a story and put it out there. If you ran a vine of independent magazines or independent journal it meant you had to really believe in something.”

Page 12, found behind a mailbox on East 12th Street, offered a more puzzling hint about where to look next.

“Page 13 on ? Street, between 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue,” it read.

Much to my dismay, a careful perusal of both East Thirteenth Street and East 14th Street didn’t turn up any more pages. The trail had gone cold. I decided to return home.

But as I was walking down the street, exhausted from spending the day playing “I Spy,” a run-in with a friend gave me one final gust to keep searching.

“I think I saw something like that on East Sixth Street,” she said. “Maybe you want to check it out.”

What? Page Six? No one had found page six. This couldn’t be true. I had to see for myself.

And sure enough, there it was, in all its faded, hard to read glory. I smiled. I snapped a picture with my phone—proof that I had been here. That was enough.

The author of the manuscript remains unknown, as do the location of pages one through five. However, East Village residents were eager to help me speculate why the mystery writer would choose such a strange method of self-publishing.

“I think it’s everywhere,” said Elizabeth Ziff, 49, a musician. “It’s the whole Banksy thing, you know? People just want to make their mark so they do it in different ways.”

Others had some suggestions for the nameless writer.

“Unless you’re looking for it, nobody’s going to see that,” said Maureen Callahan, a retired human resources professional in her 50s squinting to read page 11. “It’s too high up.”

page 10Kathryn Kattalia A pedestrian walks by page 10 of a mystery manuscript, unaware of the page that’s affixed to the side of a trash bin on East 10th Street.