The former literary editor at Playboy and current executive editor at Byliner published her first novel, The Affairs of Others, at the end of August. It’s about a Brooklyn widow and landlady who becomes reluctantly involved in the lives of her tenants.
What neighborhood do you live in?
I live in Brooklyn Heights. I moved here for the first time in the early 90s because of an ad in the New York Times real estate section—before Craigslist was the go-to place for apartment hunting—for a studio on Remsen Street renting for $700 a month. I had no idea what or where Brooklyn Heights was; I’d just heard it was pretty, and it was. Still is. I rented the apartment, which was clean and bright, before I’d seen the
Promenade or knew about Mailer down on Columbia Heights or about the ghosts of Truman Capote, Walt Whitman, or Arthur Miller hanging around the neighborhood—before I knew it was the city’s first historic district or about the pleasures of walking across its great bridge, the Great Bridge, or in its older streets, named for fruit: Cranberry, Pineapple, Orange. But all those things have kept me here.
Best place to people-watch?
On the promenade with folks jogging, walking dogs, picking up poop, making out with abandon, smoking pot, taking pictures of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, asking, “Can you, will you take our picture? No, like this…” A mix of tourists and locals, kids on dates coming from all parts of Brooklyn, everyone claiming a piece of it, a stretch of bench, while the BQE steams up from just underneath.
Best place to drink?
I’m a teetotaler because I get these sometimes deranging migraines— have since I was little—but when I do tempt a headache, I like to drink at the Brooklyn Heights Wine Bar. They serve Lambrusco and make a beautiful martini. For beer, I go to the Henry St. Ale House. It was there I first met a Belgian beer called Manneken Pis. I fell in beer love.
Jack the Horse Tavern. It’s sophisticated with an inventive menu—Chef Tim is no stranger to amuse-bouches and consommé—but not so much that they don’t offer a grounding, wholly life-affirming mac and cheese as an appetizer. Excellent wine list, too, and a welcoming staff.
BookCourt on Court Street, hands down. They love Brooklyn writers and are literary and adventurous in their tastes and display. Plus, when Barnes & Noble moved in just a few blocks away, BookCourt didn’t just survive—it thrived. Always cheers me up when I pass it. So many folks declare the print book dead, literary work a bad gamble; BookCourt seems to be living proof this isn’t so.
Best farmer’s market?
The Brooklyn Heights farmer’s market. I am a die-hard consumer of Wilklow Orchards’ apples; I learned about the range of apples out there from Fred, who with his wife owns and runs the orchards. Someone who will take time to teach an uninitiated someone, a surburbanite—whose mother did not, would not garden—turned urbanite, about all-things apple—which variety can do what the palate or for a dish, which are hybrids, which are hardy, which are trendy—has my undying loyalty.
Best place to see a movie?
Heights Cinema. I love that old, crooked little theater. They pick interesting movies, so I don’t have to travel to the Angelika.
Best laundromat or dry cleaner’s?
Heights Cleaners. They’re open on Sundays and give discounts if you pre-pay on the weekends. They’ve also been great when I have to have something done quickly, even just pressing out a beaded something-or-other complicated garment before an event. I’ve found them to be very sympathetic to all sorts of clothing emergencies.
Best place to see a movie or a play or a piece of art?
Movies: Heights Cinema. I love that old, crooked little theater. It feels like home, and they pick interesting movies so I don’t have to travel to the Angelika.
Best coffee shop?
Connecticut Muffin but for the guys who’ve worked there over the years (long live Efren!) and the big cookies and cinnamon twists (still working on getting them to provide some gluten-free items).
Best transit option?
So many subways run through Brooklyn Heights. It’s an embarrassment of subway lines.
Best date spot?
Been too long since I’ve dated, but Bevacco, the Italian restaurant on Henry, offers generous amounts of truffle oil in many of their dishes—that’s some sexy-tasting oil, sings love songs in your stomach—and has some lovely Italian wine.
Best person whose name you don’t know?
A few plucky elderly women who walk at their own pace and don’t give a damn whose way they’re blocking. The St. Ann’s kids have to walk around them, not vice versa.
Paul Giamatti. He’s lived here for years and has this marvelous look on his face that says, “Don’t you fucking talk to me.” Nobody does.