By MEGHAN O’ROURKE
UP IS UP BUT SO IS DOWN
New York’s Downtown
Literary Scene, 1974-1992.
Edited by Brandon Stosuy.
New York University Press. Cloth, $90; paper, $29.95.
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Today, the city is so expensive that the real Bohemians are dispersed among
disparate, far-flung neighborhoods.
But maybe that’s not so tragic. After all, the third factor in the disappearance of Downtown is the Internet. In an era when real estate is costly but virtual space is cheap, the community that once could be found only on Astor Place exists online. Today, there are plenty of magazines and Web sites continuing the do-it-yourself tradition of Downtown. But they’re largely in the yonder regions of America, where outfits like Spork (out of Tucson) and Forklift, Ohio (out of Cincinnati), to name just two I like, are publishing irreverent work that swipes at the mainstream. In the afterword to “Up Is Up,” Dennis Cooper declares “I wanted to make it as a writer, and I thought I had to be in New York for that to happen.” But many writers no longer feel that way. If there is to be a new Downtown, it is probably taking shape in a city like Portland, Ore., out among the fresh pine trees, and those of us in New York can visit it online.
Meghan O’Rourke is the culture editor for Slate and a poetry editor at The Paris Review.
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