Lower East Side Men to get Reading Guide from Local Cafe

By Serena Solomon on June 18, 2012 10:58am 

Emmy Award nominated filmmaker and Lower East Side resident Ian Rosenberg is the first guest curator of a reading list for neighborhood men.
Emmy Award nominated filmmaker and Lower East Side resident Ian Rosenberg is the first guest curator of a reading list for neighborhood men.
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Rusty Peacock

LOWER EAST SIDE — If you’re a Lower East Side male stumped for a good read, look no further.

Lost Weekend, a coffee shop and art gallery at 45 Orchard Street, will release its first in a monthly series of book lists curated by a modern Lower East Side man for his neighborhood fellows to raise funds for Housing Works.

The project, called "One Good Book," will launch this Thursday at Lost Weekend and will have a different male L.E.S. resident give his suggested reading list each month, while stylish vintage editions of the books will be stocked in the coffee shop's gallery, thanks to Housing Works' rare books collection.

"I don't have cable. I read," said the owner of Lost Weekend, Michael Little, 36, who has a graduate degree in creative writing.

For Little, books are a regular topic of conversation with his coffee customers as they sip espressos while they work over a large communal table in his store. In what he considers a natural next step, Little has created the reading list idea and given it a Lower East Side twist.

"We are able to bring something that I love into the neighborhood," said Little of his burgeoning forum for discussing literature. "Is there a bookstore down here? No."

The first curator in the series, Emmy-nominated filmmaker Ian Rosenberg, will share his "One Good Book" list this Thursday, and his selections will be posted on Lost Weekend's website.

"Not only will it be good reading, but everyone will be able to buy a really beautiful book," said Rosenberg, who has lived in the neighborhood since 2001.

His reading guide for neighborhood males includes the 1914 novel "Lafcadio’s Adventure" by Andre Gide and an essential book on the intricacies of one Jewish man's sexuality in "Portnoy's Complaint," by Philip Roth.

"They have a scandalous, edgy quality to them," said Rosenberg, who is currently raising funds for the final touches to his latest film "Welcome to Kutsher's: The Catskills Resort," which is about one of the "Dirty Dancing"-era holiday destinations.

Ian Rosenberg will be parting with his own copies of Lafcadio’s Adventure and Portnoy's Complaint to sell for the fundraiser.
Ian Rosenberg will be parting with his own copies of Lafcadio’s Adventure and Portnoy's Complaint to sell for the fundraiser.
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Ian Rosenberg

"Lafcadio’s Adventure," is an existential tale where the main character commits an unmotivated and spontaneous murder.

"The Lower East Side guy would be someone who is really interested in the idea of danger, but from an intellectual perspective," said Rosenberg. His decision was to get the mind of readers ticking, but "not necessarily inspire them to push people off trains" like the book's protagonist does.

Another selection comes with a Lower East Side theme: Luc Sante's "Low Life" details the neighborhood's seedier times from 1840 to 1920 when gangsters, gamblers and prostitutes strolled the streets.

"Anyone who is picking the Lower East Side as a place to live, if they are not just picking it for the bars, I think they are picking it as a place that really still has a sense of history," said Rosenberg.

He will be parting with his own copies of "Lafcadio’s Adventure" and "Portnoy's Complaint" to sell for the launch and to raise funds for Housing Works. Other books have been collected from the Housing Works' inventory, including its rare book collection.

For Rosenberg, who also works as a lawyer for ABC News, Sante's historical novel brings the old neighborhood to life.

"Hearing about the dangerous past of the streets that you are walking on every day is fascinating," he said.

One Good Book will launch on Thursday June 21 at 7 p.m. at Lost Weekend at 45 Orchard Street.

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