Longtime Brooklynite Ben Hammer, sixty-seven, is being threatened with eviction by his landlord after the latter declared that the conditions of Hammer’s one-bedroom apartment and the extensive library it contains pose a hazard to himself and the building he has lived in for the last forty-six years.
According to The New York Daily News, the eviction notice from Benedict Realty Group states that Hammer’s living conditions — “boxes, bags, papers, debris, filing cabinets, wood crates and books piled from floor to ceiling throughout the apartment” — are unsanitary, and the building’s maintenance director was quoted as saying the books also pose a fire hazard.
Hammer, who reportedly has no intention of vacating his apartment, will face his landlord in housing court next week backed by his lawyers and the Legal Aid Society. Hammer argues that Benedict Realty is attempting to evict him because he legally requested a freeze on his rent two years ago under SCRIE, the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program. This means that Hammer pays a reduced rent, and the difference between his rate and the market rate is covered by property tax credit.
According to its website, the Legal Aid Society is a nonprofit organization that helps New York City residents living below the poverty line access the resources they need to advocate for themselves in court.
Hammer is steadfast in the face of a renter’s worst nightmare and insists his possessions hold value and he is legally permitted to remain in his apartment.
When you step foot in Brooklyn’s own The Center for Fiction, you’ll be ready to book your membership. Bookstr was lucky enough to snag an afternoon tour of the new space, but you’re going to want to stay a lot longer than that.
Recently relocated to 15 Lafayette Avenue, The Center for Fiction is more than just a bookstore—if anything can be ‘just’ a bookstore. It’s an impressive feat to fit thousands of worlds within the space of a single room… even if that room is spacious, modern, and beautifully lit. The Center for Fiction is an exceptionally curated bookstore, complete with thoughtful staff recommendations and indie releases. While browsing the high shelves (complete with rolling ladders like something out of a fairytale), I spotted one of my own niche favorites in the stacks: Kirk Lynn’s Rules for Werewolves, a dark and inventive 2015 release from Melville House—more notably, one I’ve never seen in another brick-and-mortar store.
Adjacent to the bookstore is the Center’s café, a charming spot whose walls are lined with 19th century novels. If you’ve ever fantasized about being peers with the historic greats (so, if you’re a writer) this is a dream that won’t require all that much fantasy. Sip an espresso, read a first-edition manuscript, and get lost in this novel idea.
Each table in the café is artfully topped with literary quotations.
Members have access to an even more impressive selection of features: a second-floor library with a 70,000 book collection. The basement, appropriately, is the 16,000 book crime & mystery library. Trust us—this is the only time you’ll want to be below ground with so many serial killers. (You could say it’s a collection to die for.)
The spacious upstairs features a sun-drenched reading room, complete with an adjacent outdoor patio. Plans are in development for an outdoor bar, so you may as well start planning to drink there. The reading room is a laptop free zone, which will enable you to concentrate fully on whichever book you’ve chosen and leave the world behind. A unique combination of the modern and refined, you’ll feel comfortable and inspired by this one-of-a-kind space.
The writers’ room offers a secluded yet inspiring space for those in all stages of their craft, be it an excited beginning or a far more frantic conclusion. Windows look out onto a vibrant neighborhood; inside, the atmosphere is peaceful and modern. Desks are spacious and outfitted with dividers (so, no direct eye contact with the person sitting across from you). With an adjacent kitchen, you’ll have everything you need to write all day… if you’ve got the concentration.
But The Center for Fiction has more than an updated space; it also has a vibrant, new community. Literature lovers can participate in a series of reading groups with varied prices for members and nonmembers—explore writers like James Baldwin, Aldous Huxley, and Henry James with high-level reading groups and discussions. Writing workshops are also available across a wide variety of disciplines, from genre-based courses on speculative fiction or crime writing to craft-based courses on dialogue and structure.
Individual membership is $150, dual membership is $275, and family membership is $325 annually. Although membership doesn’t cover the fees for writing and reading groups, it does count towards a 10% discount on all courses and special events. Of course, membership does include full borrowing privileges from both of The Center’s libraries, access to the reading room, and admission to the private bar.
The Brooklyn Home of Center for Creative Fiction is America’s first and only non-profit literary organization and, come January 2019, will be opening it’s doors in the heart of Brooklyn, New York.
The Center was originally established as The Mercantile Library (a lending library for merchant clerks) in Manhattan back in 1820. It was renamed The Center for Creative Fiction in 2008, shortly before the building was sold and The Center moved to a different building in the center of Manhattan. Up until now, it hasn’t exactly been easily accessible for members of the Brooklyn community.
via The Center for Fiction
“Brooklyn is home to so many great writers—both well-known and emerging—and so many of our audience members already are Brooklyn residents,” Noreen Tomassi, Executive Director of The Center, told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.“The borough may have more readers per square inch than anywhere in the country. Look at all the bookstores that thrive in Brooklyn!”
The new three-story building will include a cafe, library, bookstore, classroom, and a 160-seat auditorium. It will offer book recommendations, author’s picks, and more for avid readers and fans of fiction. For writers, there will be writing workshops, fellowships, classes on the business-side of the literary world, and so, so much more.
The Center describes itself as, “The only organization in the U.S. solely devoted to the creation and enjoyment of the art of fiction.”
I can’t wait to explore this new space and all the book magic it will be sure to bring!
There is no shortage of entitled celebrity youth out there and the public won’t hesitate to call them out. Apparently Brooklyn Beckham is no exception.
Beckham, who is eighteen, released a debut photography book earlier this year, titled What I See. His 304 page book reportedly features various subjects, from a family charity trip to Kenya, to a Kanye West concert, to selfies of the photographer himself, some of which he took at just fourteen.
Apparently selfies aren’t that inspiring anymore, because Beckham’s book has sold an underwhelming amount of copies since its release. What I See has reportedly sold just 3,890 copies in the U.K. and the reviews may offer us a hint as to why.
The book has just 10 reviews on Amazon, about half of which have awarded it 1-star. Here are some responses:
Ouch. In a surprise twist, social media users haven’t held back on their disappointment either, pointing out the sub-par captions and, em, interesting photography lighting. Other users satirized Beckham’s photographs and compared their own photo skills to the published author’s.
While the criticism of Beckham’s seemingly inexperienced photography skills may sound harsh…they are kind of true. Beckham perhaps unsurprisingly hadn’t been practicing photography very long before managing to get a book deal.
In an interview with W Magazine, Beckham said, “Penguin came to me two and a half years ago. I was really shocked and I couldn’t believe that they’d actually ask me to just yet, because I’d just kind of started.”
Beckham’s self-portrait | via Instagram (BrooklynBeckham)
Beckham has used social media to gain exposure, something millennials are all too familiar with. Though I would argue most social media users don’t exactly score book deals very easily, Beckham is an exception. “They actually first saw my work on Instagram, which has kind of helped—it’s where I post my photos and use my following to get my work out there, which I feel like is what most people nowadays do,” he said.
Of course, it wasn’t only Instagram that led to a book offer. Though photography is a fairly new endeavor for him, Beckham started his career with a bang. One of his earliest professional jobs was helping to shoot a Burberry Brit campaign when he was just sixteen years old. Unsurprisingly, his mother, fashion designer and former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, has helped to secure opportunities.
“My mum really helps me with work stuff, and it’s fun. I’m going to do backstage photography at her next show, actually. And I actually really want to photograph her for one of her campaigns, which we’re talking about,” Beckham said.
Beckham’s nature photography seems to have improved |Via Instagram (BrooklynBeckham)
As many readers have pointed out, yes Beckham’s famous heritage was definitely a factor in a major publishing house offering him a book deal. But in his defense, who wouldn’t say yes! As a writer, if a huge…or small…publishing house offered me a book deal because they saw my work, I wouldn’t say “Oh, sorry I’m famous so it’s wrong to take advantage of this opportunity, even though I actively work hard to hone in on my skills.”
I cannot imagine that anyone would turn down the opportunity Beckham was offered. Yes, it is annoying that there are millions of photographers out there who have struggled to get their work seen on a larger platform and cannot use their parent’s status to further their career. But at the end of the day, it isn’t Beckham fault. Is he entitled? Perhaps. But regardless, he seems to have found a hobby, or possible profession, he likes and he shouldn’t get rejected by critics purely because he will have some advantages that others don’t.
His photography may not be perfect and he clearly has a lot to learn (as we all do in our respective interests), but at the age of eighteen he is a published author with over 3,000 copies of his work sold. While that may not be a large number in the publishing world, it’s still pretty impressive feat for an eighteen-year-old, and poor reviews will still not take away from that. (That’s what we’re going with.)
Featured Image Via Instagram (Damon_Baker)/Instagram (BrooklynBeckham)
Last Sunday, September 17th, countless authors, publishers, poets, and publications descended upon Brooklyn Heights for the annual Brooklyn Book Festival, featuring stalls, discussion panels, and readings.
Brooklyn Book Festival / Image Via Brownstoner
It can seem overwhelming when you consider (or see with your own eyes) the sheer number of both writers trying to get their start, and of journals and magazines looking for submissions. We want to make it a little easier, so we’ve rounded up some of the best literary journals present at the festival and where you can find them. Even if you’re less about writing and more about reading, all of these journal publish both online and in hardcopy. They all feature amazing new writing from around the world!
Hailed as ‘beautiful, compelling, irresistible’ by Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz, this stunning publication features fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Diaz added ‘Slice will knock you right out. In the best way possible.’ The submission window opens again October 1st.
Many amazing writers have had their work appear in Tin House, including Dorothy Allison, Stephen King, Miranda July, Richard Ford, Alice Munro, Pablo Neruda, Sharon Olds, Donna Tartt…the list goes on and on…and on. But don’t let that deter you! You too could be among the greats. Tin House often runs themed issues and are accepting submissions now for their beautiful online and print journal under the theme ‘Candy.’
A Public Space is an independent magazine of literature and culture founded in 2006. They partner with Grey Wolf Press to publish books by contributers and are accepting submissions from October 15th to April 15th. They publish both online and in glorious hardcopy.
One of the most respected fiction journals in the USA, ASF aims to publish ‘work by emerging and established voices: stories that dive into the wreck, that stretch the reader between recognition and surprise, that conjure a particular world with delicate expertise—stories that take a different way home.’ They publish triannually, and are open for submissions all year round.
Belladonna is a feminist avant-garde collective founded in 1999. Since then, they have published over 300 female writers with the aim of promoting writing by women. Join their mailing list for news of their next submission window!
Black Sun Lit are looking out for the little guy, aiming to introduce, promote, and support both emerging and experienced authors whose work has little representation—or minimal exposure—in a reading world largely governed by commercial publishing.
Electric Literature’s website states their mission is “to expand the influence of literature in popular culture by fostering lively and innovative literary conversations and making exceptional writing accessible to new audiences.” Electric Literature is “interested in [non-fiction] pieces that examine the intersection of the literary experience and other creative endeavors: film, fine art, music, video games, science, tech, architecture, etc.”