HEY, BOOKSTERS, HEADS-UP! This post is about a MONDAY evening visit – on NOVEMBER 5th at 6:15pm. – to THE HALF KING, the literary bar owned and operated by Sebastian Junger, Scott Anderson and Nanette Burstein. We’re going on a Monday because that’s the night they do readings. On November 5th the reading – which starts at 7pm – will be by star-journalist and woman-about-town Marie Brenner. There is no cost to attend but we ask that you reserve a spot on the SIGN-UP! page so we know to save a seat for you (volunteers wanted!). Yes, it’s the night before the mid-terms – maybe we could use a little R&R the night before!
USED TO BE that newly graduated English majors and other Liberal Arts types would flock to New York in late June to find jobs in the city’s publishing industry. Some even hoped – yikes – to be writers. That has pretty much changed as the publishing industry has shrunk and compressed and entry level positions are reserved for barely paid interns who can afford (depending on student loans and parental largesse) to eke out a living in our now very expensive city. Part of the romance and mystique of that earlier time was to nurse a drink at one of the city’s many literary hang-outs and hope to catch a glimpse of and maybe even join a conversation with a literary giant. And yes, dear reader, that did indeed happen! Each of these places tended to have its own personality and clientele, but a non-exhaustive list would have to include: the White Horse Tavern (Thomas Wolfe’s famous hang out), Chumley’s, the Lion’s Head, the Blue Bar, McSorley’s, Bemelman’s Bar, Kettle of Fish … and on, and on. [FULL DISCLOSURE: This writer’s wedding was pretty much planned by compatriots at the Lion’s Head where she met many a well-known writer including Frank McCourt, Pete Hamill, Jimmy Breslin … The Lion’s Head is also the setting for Nora Ephron’s play about Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Mike McAlary. But I digress …)
But, bless their literary, creative hearts, in 2000 journalists Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm) and Scott Anderson and filmmaker/ documentarian Nanette Burstein chose to invest their savings in that old New York institution, the literary bar. It’s called THE HALF KING * and it’s on West 23rd Street just west of Tenth Avenue. Before Chelsea was chic, before there was a High Line, before the area was chock-a-block with art galleries this trio staked out what was then a far-too-west stretch of West 23rd to open their own literary haunt. Their intention was to create a neighborhood spot where people in the publishing and film industries could meet up and talk shop. Along the way they featured photography exhibitions and non-fiction readings. So, the real point of going to the Half King on Monday, November 5th will be not only to hear Marie Brenner (more about her below) but also because you should know that such a place as this exists and, if you’re a reader (and most MWC’ers are!) you might want to make a point of checking out their offerings.
Marie Brenner is a well-known and accomplished journalist and investigative reporter who will be reading from her new book, A PRIVATE WAR: Marie Colvin and Other Tales of Heroes, Scoundrels, and Renegades which will be published at the end of October and has also just been released as a feature film. She is a writer-at-large for VANITY FAIR Magazine and is a contributing editor for New York Magazine and The New Yorker. She has published five other books.
- It would be great to give you a pithy explanation as to why this place is called THE HALF KING – and even though there’s apparently a Seneca Indian chief called that it doesn’t seem to relate too much. Come up with a good answer and we’ll buy you a drink!