Central New York is for writers

Short story author and Syracuse University professor George Saunders won a MacArthur “genius grant” yesterday. Yay George! Because Syracuse’s newspaper, the Post-Standard has not only a book critic, but a blog about books, I can alert you to an online piece Saunders wrote for the New Yorker. (Thanks for the link, Laura.)

George is one of many, many working writers in the region. I’ve mentioned them before, but it’s a topic near and dear to my heart. Who else can you run into at the library or coffee shop? Bruce Coville, for one. Tammy Pierce is moving up here (December?) and Suzan-Lori Parks. Who else has ties here? Tobias Wolf, Mary Karr, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Seybold, Jay McInerney, John Berendt, professor Gwyneth Bolton, poet and professor Bruce Smith, Raymond Carver, Steven Crane, F. Scott Fitzgerald, mystery writer John McDonald, and scholar Alison Lurie. Norma and Harry and Anne Fox Mazer. SCBWI maven Ellen Yeomans.

Who am I missing?

Central New York has a rich artistic and literary history and is a magnificent place to live. Maybe you should move up here. Now.

I have a question for you readers in the area – where is the best public space to write in Central New York?

If you don’t live around here – where do you like to write? Be specific, give addresses (but only if it is a public space).

10 Replies to “Central New York is for writers”

  1. Your post makes me want to move to NY. i only write in my kitchen or living room when it is quiet in my house(which isn’t that often).


  2. How I do miss New York~ For now, though, I’m content toiling it out in Southern California. When my brain is really stuck, I like writing at Starbucks near my house. There are others there working on stuff, I get to drink hot apple cider, and people-watch when I get stuck.

    It’s funny you mention Syracuse for writers though, a friend of mine is stopping by SU as part of a 50-state book tour today!

  3. I spent four years of my life in Central New York (I miss it dearly), but never wrote in any public spaces, only private.

    Now that I split time between Manhattan and the Adirondacks, I’d say my favorite places to write are:

    In good weather:
    Manhattan: By the sailboat pond or on Cedar Hill in Central Park
    Adirondacks: Out on a boat or an island in the middle of the lake

    In bad weather:
    Manhattan: The Rose room in the NYPL or at the Morgan Library (which has been closed but is finally open again)
    Adirondacks: At my desk, looking out at the lake (not a public space)

  4. I have a question for you readers in the area – where is the best public space to write in Central New York?

    I do most of my (non-work-related) writing at home or at random restaurants on the east side of town while I’m on my lunch hour (a little diner called Pardzee’s on Manlius Center Road is a favorite). However, I’ve also taken time to write at the Erie Canal Park at Cedar Bay (because we Syracusans must do our best to take advantage of nice weather when it presents itself) and during the evenings at the North Syracuse Public Library (specifically, the table next to the window with the slightly defaced plant). My problem is I tend to prefer a quiet environment in which to write, and I can’t always get that in public spaces.

  5. Oh my gosh, what a list. I DO want to move to Central New York now!

    My favorite spot for writing is a tiny little covered arcade off of North Charles Street (between Saratoga and Pleasant) in Baltimore. It doesn’t really look publicly accessible, but it is! It’s got flowers and cobblestones and a roof made of skylights, so all of the natural light and very little of the weather. I love it there.

  6. I saw Saunders read some of his work at Lafayette College last year. He was a fantastic reader, giving all his characters wonderfully distinct voices (“voices” = voices of the spoken variety) which were pretty much hilarious. If you ever get the chance to see him read, please do.

    Jonathan Franzen used to live 10 or 15 minutes from my house, but talented writers (except Jerry Spinelli) have a way of moving away from my neck of the woods :p

  7. Franzen lived in Chestnut Hill (northwest corner of Philly). I have not read a specific date when he lived there, but he mentions in a 1995 essay (How to Be Alone, pp. 185-186) that he has moved away. From the context, i would guess he had lived there in the very early ’90s.

    I kind of meant to heckle you a little for leaving the Philadelphia-area. It was supposed to be a good-natured heckle…i mean it just would be really cool if you lived here, cuz you make wherever you live seem, uh, very cool. (see esp. the above LJ post for how you make middle-NY seem like a cool place)

  8. Ohhhhh, Chestnut Hill!

    There used to be a luscious bakery just off the main drag that made the best cream of broccoli and spinach soups. Worth double every single calorie. I wonder if it’s still there…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.