Ben Greenman.

“I have had every kind of desk. I’ve had big ones made of wood. I’ve had small ones made of metal. I’ve had antiques I bought and old pieces with character I rescued from the street. I’ve had institutional-issue clunkers and Ikea pre-fab. About four years ago, I tried to go slightly toward Zen, and so my wife searched and found a desk that looked like a ladder. It had a chair for sitting, and a flat surface for writing, and shelves for books and papers. It saved space by leaning on the wall and, in theory, focussed my attention on the task at hand. My kids gave me vases filled with paper flowers they said were roses and I was in business.

The first week was great. I wrote a dozen pages the first day, and twenty the second. There was even a window so that I could look out into the real world and acquire material. (That was next to the desk, 
not part of it. It was coincidence I guess, but I appreciated it.) I felt like I was on the USS Lincoln. Mission Accomplished! But after a few weeks, even though the roses were still on the desk, the bloom was off the rose. It was too formal an arrangement. It demanded too much. The window made me mad.

So I downscaled radically. I got an egg-shaped table, put it near the couch, and put my laptop on it. That’s it. That’s all I have now. It seems to do the job just fine. Nothing fits on it other than the laptop.Maybe a pen. Oh, and my iPod. It’s marginally better than working in a coffee shop, in the sense that I am not in a coffee shop. I’ve written three books on this primitive desk-like contraption, and my kids have cannibalized the other lean-on-the-wall thing. I wish them well.

Here are pictures of the desk I once had and the desk I now have.”

Ben Greenman is an editor at The New Yorker and the author of several acclaimed books of fiction, including What He’s Poised To Do (which the Los Angeles Times called “astonishing”),Please Step Back and Superbad.  He lives in Brooklyn.

FROM YOUR DESKS: Any fall plans?

BEN GREENMAN: This fall I have another book coming out. It’s called “Celebrity Chekhov.” Harper Perennial is publishing it, and while the last book
 (“What He’s Poised To Do”) was a serious (though not always uncomic) collection of literary stories, this is a different kind of thing: Anton Chekhov’s stories reupholstered for modern times, with the characters replaced by contemporary celebrities. If I understand the
world at all, it will be beloved and reviled in equal measure. Oh, and I’m going to Ireland for the Frank O’Connor short story festival, which should be fun.

FYD: I’m Irish. Any memorable meals or films as of late?

BG: Any meal that delivers food into my stomach is a good one. As for films, I liked “Red Riding 1974,” even though it was grim. I watched ”Putney Swope” and “Night of the Hunter,” like I do every few months. And I was a little underwhelmed by “Inception” and a little whelmed by ”Love Guru.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kate to Kate: Hmmm…films! I should watch “Greenberg” today. Further thoughts: Ben’s side-by-side desk competition (ladder vs table desk smackdown). Tough call. Wow, Ben has a good gig; the writing thing and the editing scene. She’s a big fan of his work. Oh, further Kate fall reading requirements: “What He’s Posied to Do” (a must after this thoughtful The Millions review). After more research on her most interesting subject, Kate stumbles across the following quotation (see below).

FYD: What is this all about?

BG: Oh I found the quote and then thought of it again.

Check Ben @ twitter.com/bengreenman

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