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Leigh Stein ‘Can’t Go to the East Village Anymore,’ But Reads Here Tonight - The Local East Village Blog - NYTimes.com


Leigh Stein ‘Can’t Go to the East Village Anymore,’ But Reads Here Tonight


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Screen shot 2012-07-25 at 4.48.44 PMCourtesy Leigh Stein

At 7:30 tonight, Leigh Stein, a novelist and former editorial staffer at the New Yorker, will read from her new book of poetry, “Dispatch from the Future,” at Bar on A. We spoke to the Brooklynite about bad dates in the East Village and an awkward shopping trip to the St. Mark’s Bookshop.

Q.

The trailer for your new poetry collection begins, “I can’t go to the East Village anymore…” How do you feel about coming back to the neighborhood for your book reading?

A.

I love the neighborhood but I avoided it for years because it brought back weird, painful memories. Now I’ve grown up a bit, and can enjoy life again. Bar on A is actually one of my favorite bars in the area. I had a “Where the Wild Things Are”-themed birthday party there a few years ago. I wore a faux fur stole.

Q.

You say the East Village reminds you of all your bad dates. Is there one that stands out?

A.

I dated a guy who told me the exact same stories on each of our dates. They weren’t even stories. They were like, “I ran track in high school.” Then once at Cafe Mogador he told me this long, rambling, fascinating story about his buddy who was in love with the daughter of an Islamic extremist, and I kept saying, “Wow! No way! Seriously!?,” to show that I was following the story, but then he stopped me and said, “Listen. Your interruptions are actually less interesting than my story.”

Q.

Did you ever live in the East Village? And does the neighborhood figure a lot into your other poems?

A.

Nope, never lived in the area. But after enough dates there, it became clear to me that it was the go-to ‘hood for guys in their twenties and thirties of a certain income level to bring girls. Not that I don’t love pierogies and arepas, because I seriously love pierogies and arepas. I have another poem in my book about the East Village and my trip to the Merchant’s House Museum.

Q.

Do you have any good memories at other neighborhood fixtures like Tompkins Square Park and Bar on A?

A.

Bar on A has Hoegaarden on tap and that makes me happy. I once had a first kiss in Tompkins Square Park after winning a thumb war. Ah, youth!

Q.

Your book’s being sold on the website IndieBound. Are you a fan of indie bookstores? Have you heard of what’s going on with St. Mark’s Bookshop and the cash mob there last weekend?

A.

I’m a huge fan of indies. I haven’t been following the St. Mark’s stuff closely, but I love that store. Embarrassingly (or maybe not), I once bought a copy of my own novel there, because I had to give it to someone as a thank you gift (for letting me stay with them on my book tour) and I didn’t have any copies left. I felt weird about it, but happy to support an independent bookstore.