Forgotten Borough Reading at Queens Library

I’ll be reading at the central branch of the Queens Library this afternoon—one of several contributors to Forgotten Borough, an anthology of essays and stories from writers who live in Queens (or have lived here at some point in their lives). It should be a fantastic event: I’m part of a lineup that includes Victor LaValle, Jocelyn Lieu, Margarita Shalina, Juanita Torrence-Thompson, and Marissa Walsh, along with the book’s editor, Nicole Steinberg, who will be coming up from Philadelphia to emcee. (But she lived in Queens when she came up with the idea—just down the street from me, in fact!)

“My goal from the start [was] to find compelling stories about Queens,” Nicole told Rigoberto González (who’s also in the book!), “what it means to be from Queens and what it means to settle there, instead of another borough. I think outsiders will be surprised to find how versatile the lifestyles of Queens residents can be, from young people who commute to Manhattan every day to families who never have a reason to leave their neighborhoods. And because there is such a diverse population here, I think insiders stand to learn from reading about these stories as well. Queens is so huge, much bigger than it sometimes seems, and there’s a lot of ground to cover, from Astoria all the way out to Douglaston, and everything in between.” I think you’ll find, if you pick Forgotten Borough up, that it lives up to that promise.

I’m especially glad to be a part of today’s reading because the Queens Library, like all of the public libraries in New York City, is facing a financial crisis that’s only going to get worse if the budget cuts that our mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is proposing are passed. As it is, the Queens Library hasn’t bought any new books this year because it simply hasn’t been able to afford them; the next step will be laying off employees and reducing the number of days the branches are open to the public. I know this one reading isn’t going to turn the tide—heck, in all honesty, I’m not expecting that many people to make the trek from Manhattan or Brooklyn out to Jamaica (the neighborhood in Queens where the Central Library is, even though it’s not particularly central, as far as I can tell) on a Saturday afternoon, especially if we get the thunderstorm that’s predicted for today. But it’ll give me a chance to forge a connection with my local library, and maybe I can build on that connection, and some of the other literary things I’ve got going on, to do more to raise awareness of the problem, and ideally bring in some donations.

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11 June 2011 | events |