Emma Viskic has fallen for the New York Public Library.

Books, On the Run

A New York Minute

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Crime writers Sulari Gentill, Robert Gott, Jock Serong and Emma Viskic have begun their US tour, On The Run: Australian Crime Writers In America, and have promised a daily update of proceedings.

In this instalment EMMA VISKIC recounts an unexpectedly hospitable welcome to New York City.

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Visiting New York for the first time is a little like meeting a movie star. Beautiful, cosmopolitan, stylish, familiar. And disappointing. Where is the legendary New York rudeness we’ve been promised? The stinking streets? The foul-mouthed cab drivers? In a city almost equal to the entire population of Australia, people have been unfailingly charming. They’ve waited patiently as we’ve fumbled for the right money, told us where to get the best food and views, stepped out of our way as we’ve wandered down major thoroughfares gazing at the architecture. Things did get a little sticky when Sulari spilled an entire mug of vanilla frappe at a major publishing house (and got worse when the water-phobic paper towels spread the mess across the table) but, in true New York style, our host reassured us that she spilled coffee over expensive Manhattan offices all the time.

Our intrepid writers posing for a selfie…

We’ve had a packed two days seeing publishers, agents, editors and readers. And getting lost. Somewhat worryingly, none of us have any sense of direction (Pro tip: the staff at the Big Gay Ice Cream shop give very detailed directions as well as serving amazing ice-cream.) But we’ve obviously got the bewildered expression down pat, as the locals have started offering to help before we even ask.

Today has been a dizzying mix of events, from breakfast with a literary agent, to a meeting with the Australian Consul-General Alastair Walton, and a casual get-together with readers at the legendary New York Public library. Films and photos don’t do the library justice. I’m a polyamorist when it comes to libraries, but I think I’ve met my One True Love in the NYPL. The place is magnificent, with marble staircases, arched windows, galleries and books. So many books.

…the moment in action

I’m writing this in the Rose Reading Room, a long stone room with an ornate wooden ceiling, chandeliers, and quietly typing people. There’s the muted excitement that comes with being in an old, beautiful space dedicated to learning. And that now-legendary New York hospitality. When I took a wrong turn on the way here, a kind New Yorker asked if I was lost, gave me detailed instructions, and suggested the best place to work. Sulari and I are seeing a Broadway show tonight and we’re hoping for at least one rude cab driver on the way. Wish us luck.

For yesterday’s instalment, click here.

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