April 12, 2010

The Power of Words

The Morgan Library and Museum is a wonderful and mostly overlooked institution in the New York cultural landscape. It's located just a short walk east from the Empire State Building in an area of the city that doesn't really have a name (West Murray Hill? North Madison Park?). Nevertheless, there are often great exhibits there and one of current ones got me to make it all the way over there for a late Friday night visit. In case you were wondering, admission is absolutely free on Fridays from 7pm to 9pm; other times it's $12 for adults. As far as I'm concerned, I think all museums should be open until 9pm every night of the week. And while I'm making random suggestions, I also think every book and magazine store in the city should be open until Midnight (a few are...if you know where to go!)

The exhibit that inspired my visit is a small trove of ten letters from J.D. Salinger to his friend Michael Mitchell who designed the cover to "The Catcher in the Rye." Four of the letters were on display in two glass cases when I visited. The rest are scheduled to be exhibited in the coming weeks. It was a very unique experience to wait in a short line and then crowd around the display cases in a large and dark book-lined room to read his one and two page personal typewritten letters from the 50s and 60s. My favorite line in the letters was this one: "It's a big shitty world, and it gets shittier by the minute." I am glad to see that Salinger was so optimistic after all his literary success. No wonder he never published anything after 1965.

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