A reader writes:
I’m curious, and it might be worth blogging about: what does your work space look like? I once saw a photo book of writers’ studies, and I spent hours poring over photographs of desks, bookshelves, odd pieces of detritus thumbtacked to the walls, and I came away believing (perhaps wrongly) that I knew a bit more about each of them. We know some of what is on the walls, so what about the rest?
I work at home in a small office-bedroom whose third-floor window looks down on a quiet, tree-lined block of Upper West Side brownstones. The window is to my left, a clothes closet to my right, and over the closet is a sleeping loft. (The ceilings in my apartment are unusually high.) The walls are white, the furniture black, the rug black and tan. I sit on a cheap, creaky swivel chair. My desk is one of those Danish-style slab-and-tube jobs: four shelves, no drawers. The shelf on which I work holds my iBook, a pair of good-quality desktop speakers hooked up to the computer (I often listen to music while I write), a phone-fax-answering machine, an external zip drive, and a tall, sometimes shaky stack of review CDs. My printer is on the bottom shelf. The shelf immediately above eye level holds a few framed pictures, a flashlight (just in case),
and two short stacks of review copies and bound galleys of forthcoming books.
On the top shelf are:
– The Library of America’s Flannery O’Connor: Collected Works
– Four hardbound Viking Portables: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, and Johnson & Boswell
– An old Modern Library collection of Montaigne’s essays
– Dostoyevsky’s Demons
– Kenneth Minogue’s Alien Powers: The Pure Theory of Ideology
– Arlene Croce’s Writing in the Dark, Dancing in The New Yorker
– David Thomson’s New Biographical Dictionary of Film
– H.L. Mencken’s New Dictionary of Quotations
– The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
– Fowler’s Modern English Usage
– A Terry Teachout Reader
To my immediate left, below the window sill, are two neat stacks of books and papers. To my right is a small wheeled hutch that contains office supplies and other papers. Atop the hutch are two boxes full of Giorgio Morandi and Fairfield Porter notecards, a small rock from the shore of Isle au Haut, and a Cup of Chicha coffee mug full of pens and pencils. Beyond it is an electronic keyboard on a floor stand, and beyond the keyboard, next to the closet, is a case of books about music. Behind my chair are seven custom-made cases containing 3,000 CDs.
Hanging on the walls are:
– A framed gold record given to me by the members of Nickel Creek
– A Hatch Show Print poster
advertising a concert by Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys, printed from the original blocks
– A poster advertising a 1974 Hans Hofmann show at Andr