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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Roosevelt Island - A "Non Sequitur" With "Goofy Tram" And No Dogs According To Lethem Story In The New Yorker Magazine



A reader points out that Roosevelt Island was mentioned in a recent New Yorker short story by Jonathan Lethem. According to the reader:
... Thought you might be interested in this mention of Roosevelt Island in the New Yorker from a few weeks back (May 25 issue, it's tough keeping up with these dense weeklys), if you haven't already seen it. It's from a short story by Jonathan Lethem, "Ava's Apartment". Lethem, as you may know, is ... known most famously for his novel "Motherless Brooklyn". The story concerns an aging rock critic, Perkus, who is forced out of his apartment by a snowstorm (it has undermined his building's integrity), and he decides to drop out for a bit. He finds a squat in an eastside building in the '60s given over to orphaned dogs, where volunteers come each day to take the dogs for walks, feed them, etc. Ava is the pit bull who occupies the apartment where Perkus takes up his squat. Perkus eventually assumes full volunteer duties for Ava and they go on walks all over the eastside:
Now the two gradually enlarged their walking orbit, steering the compass of Ava's sniffing curiosity, around the Rockefeller campus and the Weill Cornell Medical Center, onto a bridge over the Drive, to gaze across at the permanent non sequitur of Roosevelt Island, defined for Perkus by its abandoned t.b. hospital, to which no one ever referred, certainly not the population living there and serviced by its goofy tram, as if commuting by ski lift. "No dogs allowed," he reminded Ava every time she seemed to be contemplating that false haven. Or down First Avenue, into the lower Sixties along second, a nefariously vague zone whose residents seemed to Perkus like zombies, beyond help.
Well, he doesn't get the t.b. hospital right, at least not these days. But I'd say RI as a "permanent non sequitur", and the tram as "goofy", are both pretty much spot on. Plus I've always been struck by the lack of dogs on the island, having come from 2 neighborhoods (Chelsea then Hell's Kitchen) that are full of them. Manhattan Park, where we live, is just weirdly devoid of dogs (because they're banned of course).
Keep up the good work.
I appreciate the literary tip though we know that dogs are now allowed on Roosevelt Island. There is even a Roosevelt Island dog blogger and RIOC has a dog control policy as well!

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