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Yeah, actually, my parents are from there, and so is my girlfriend.
Oh, wow, so you have deep roots. Whereabouts did your parents live?
In the 50s, around Eighth Avenue.
Uh-huh, uh-huh. The house that has been demolished was on 34th Street. I didn't want to give the exact address in the book. But it was 34th, between Fourth and Fifth.
What neighborhood in Brooklyn do you live in?
I live in Park Slope, and I've been here for a long, long time. But when I first came to Brooklyn, more than 30 years ago, I lived in Carroll Gardens, which was all Italian then, completely Italian. And then, after some years, I moved a little closer to Brooklyn Heights, into Cobble Hill. I was there for about five years, and then came to Park Slope, about 25 years ago.
What brought you to Park Slope eventually?
[pause] I'm trying to think. My wife and I were renting a place in Cobble Hill, and we lost it because it was the top two floors of a brownstone, lived in by the owner, who occupied the bottom two floors. He had always told us from the very beginning that one day he wanted to take over the whole place. And so that day came and we had to leave, just at the moment my wife was pregnant with our daughter. So we had to scramble to find something, and we found an affordable apartment in Park Slope and moved over here.
What about the neighborhood made you stay for so long?
I like it, I like it. It's a little more lively than Cobble Hill or Carroll Gardens. And there is the park, which is the great advantage. And I've always felt that Park Slope was like a miniature Upper West Side, it has that kind of bustle and density to it.
Does living in Brooklyn affect your work?
No, not at all. I've lived in so many places over the years, in all kinds of rooms, all kinds of apartments and houses. The work is really "the notebook," the world is in that. And the notebook is open on your lap, it's open on a desk, it's all the same thing... I don't think where I work affects how I work at all.
What are some of your favorite spots in Park Slope? Bookstores? Coffee Shops? Bars?
We have two bookstores left in Park Slope. We used to have more. Right now we have the Barnes and Noble that's been there for about, I don't know how many years—ten years? Twelve years? And then the Community Bookstore, which is an essential part of the neighborhood. And I know they're hanging by the skin of their teeth. But they're still there and I don't think they're gonna go out of business 'cause I think they have many loyal customers who prefer to shop there, because people know how important it is to keep an independent store here.
In Paul Auster's new novel, the neighborhood stands in for war-torn America.
Oct 27, 2010