Are these the Greenwich Village Pearly Gates or the Gates of Hell?

After reading A Party of Pictures by Thomas McGonigle, you’ll know. Welcome. To be published by Mercer Street Books Publishing.

DINGS by Wayne Conti

Henry saw a couple of new dings in his father’s old Lincoln. Henry didn’t like that. The large car was twenty-two years old now, and was beginning to teeter between being a classic and a jalopy. When he looked up the sloping, shady driveway, Henry saw that the garage door had been left open. The frame of the garage door had been sideswiped down to bare wood and splinters. His father’s driving wasn’t getting any better.

He heard the old front door of the house creak and saw his father staring down at him from the porch. The old man looked thinner, maybe, but even his thinness made him seem to loom over Henry. So did the fact that the porch was built up into the side of a hill. The house itself was high and gothic, constructed like the others beside it—all huge houses on narrow, deep properties. Henry couldn’t look at his father yet, so he glanced away. Henry’s own car was parked down on the street, as if it couldn’t make the short, steep climb to the Lincoln. Henry knew nothing in life came easily. He had come to ask his father, his only living relative, for money. Just this once.

“So you’re here,” his father said.

Henry nodded and looked up. All the old trees between the houses made the yard dark. In spite of the shade, Henry saw that the paint on the trim was blistering.

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Mercer Street Books Announces Publishing Venture

Mercer Street Books, a cultural institution in New York City for more than thirty years, is announcing that it will add publishing to its credits. “Writers browse used bookstores, and they like to talk,” explained founder and proprietor Wayne Conti. “I started to realize that many well published authors have really good works sitting in a drawer, or on a hard drive, and I started asking them more about them.”

The more Wayne saw, the more he started to think of becoming a publisher himself, all in the fine old tradition. He was well aware that many bookstores had become publishers: City Lights, Gotham Book Mart, certainly Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare and Company in Paris, and even going back to 1705 with John and Elizabeth Nutt in London.

“Authors were standing right in front of me,” Wayne realized. “I asked them what they thought of the idea of Mercer Street Books Publishing.” Now he has several novels, a collection of plays and a collection of short stories, “All coming from established authors with enough solid, published work to fill a bookshelf.”

The first book will be MY ONLINESS AND OTHERS, a collection of plays by Robert Lyons, founding artistic director of the venerated New Ohio Theater, newly on Christopher Street. The next title will be PARTY OF PICTURES, a novel by Thomas McGonigle, recently awarded the Notre Dame Review Book Prize. PARTY OF PICTURES is a satiric look at the rituals of a Greenwich Village family. After that will be a short story collection (nine of them from The New Yorker) by Whiting Award winner Rick Rofihe. Wayne added, “I’m foreseeing another novel or two, plus at least one and maybe two books on Film Noir.”

“Basically, I wanted to publish books by writers who were a pleasure to read. There was also a tendency to favor subjects swirling around the creative process and downtown NYC post-World War Two,” he concluded.

Thus, New York City has Mercer Street Books Publishing, a new literary publisher in the old tradition: books for real readers.


Name: Wayne Conti

Phone: (212) 505-8615



This short story first appeared in The New Yorker. It was later adapted by NPR for their radio series SELECTED SHORTS. Reprinted with permission of the author.


     If you think it’s too cold for a woman my age to be eating her lunch out here by the beaver dam, then the first thing I have to tell you is, don’t worry about me. Or, if I say it the way I first said it as a little girl, “Don’t worry ’bout me.”

     I seem to have been saying and thinking the same things right from the beginning. For a long time my mother would look at me as if the things I was saying were a little bit funny—just a little bit, not funny enough one way to laugh at or the other way to get upset about.

     I don’t know—is “Don’t worry ’bout me” such a funny thing to say if you’re a small child? Many times after I’d said it my mother would ask me if I was angry about anything. I told her I didn’t think so. Maybe what I should have said to her was that I just didn’t like to have anyone worrying about me. But I don’t know if I knew that yet. After a while my mother didn’t say any more about it, but she would still sometimes look at me closely when I said it, as if she were looking not just into my eyes but into my whole face, if that’s possible.

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Brooklyn Rail Reading at Mercer Street Books on March 31 Featuring Mary Ann Caws


Translators Mary Ann Caws, Nancy Kline and Donald Nicholson-Smith read along with fellow writers/translators Robert Lopez and Debora Kuan. “How Does this Translate?” is part of The Brooklyn Rail reading series and  takes place on Thursday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m.  Mercer Street Books is located at 206 Mercer Street.  212-505-8615.

Brooklyn Rail Reading at Mercer Street Books on February 25



Please join recent Brooklyn Rail contributors Amanda K Davidson, Rob Stephenson, John Reed and Leah Umansky on February 25 for the first in a series of readings at Mercer Street Books & Records.

AMANDA K. DAVIDSON is a writer who creates fiction, performances and essays. Her published work includes Arcanagrams: A Reckoning, Chapbook, Little Red Leaves (2014); The Space: Fragments for a Family, A Belladonna* chaplet (2014); and Apprenticeship, Prose chapbook, New Herring Press (2013).

ROB STEPHENSON lives in Queens, NY. He has been creating texts, drawings, paintings, music, performance, video, films, and installations for over thirty-five years. He is the author of the novel Passes Through (FC2/University of Alabama Press).

JOHN REED is the author of the novels A Still Small Voice (Delacorte Press / Delta), The Whole (Simon & Schuster / Pocket / MTV Books), the SPD bestseller, Snowball’s Chance (Roof Books / Melville House), All The World’s A Grave: A New Play By William Shakespeare (Penguin Books / Plume), and Tales of Woe (MTV Press); Free Boat: Collected Lies and Love Poems is forthcoming from C&R Press (2016).

LEAH UMANSKY Is the author of the forthcoming dystopian-themed Straight Away the Emptied World, out by Kattywompus Press in 2016, the Mad-Men inspired chapbook, Don Dreams and I Dream , voted one of The Top 10 Chapbooks To Read Now in 2014 by Time Out New York. (Kattywompus Press, 2014) and the full length collection, Domestic Uncertainties, (BlazeVOX, 2013).

The reading, which begins at 7:30 p.m., will be hosted by Brooklyn Rail Fiction Editor Donald Breckenridge.

Mercer Street Books & Records is located at 206 Mercer Street. (212-505-5615)

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On Reading: Franz Kafka


“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book  we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. That is my belief.”

Franz Kafka to Oscar Pollack

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