Second day in New York. I worked from 8am until 11am, occasionally stopping to talk to Robert Leiper about how his book is structured (basically it is in three parts) and the ideas which he wants to get across. We also talked about New York – as Robert Leiper is originally from the West Coast he was able to offer an outsider’s perspective: “New Yorkers have a scorn for the rest of America”.
Lunchtime, and we went by the Subway to Bowery and Great New York Noodle Town, a restaurant that is authentically Chinese. The restaurant was in a large square room, plate glass windows facing onto the street. About fifty or sixty small square tables were arranged in straight rows, only narrow aisles in between them. Almost all the tables were occupied by Chinese Americans – I think ours was the only non-Chinese table. The restaurant was furnished in a very basic way, and the floor seemed a little grubby. An unsmiling waiter brought us glass beakers of tea.
We were joined by Michael Kandel, a friend of Robert Leiper’s. Michael Kandel was aged late forties / early fifties, short beard, wearing a fedora, steady gaze from intelligent-looking eyes. A science fiction writer, he is probably most famous for the sci-fi novel Captain Jack Zodiac. Robert Leiper gave him back a manuscript version of his latest work, and they talked about science fiction for a while. To eat we had salt baked fish with rice, noodles, shredded duck. Michael Kandel talked about jury service he had recently completed – the mafia had been involved in the crime, which had made the jurors a little nervous (“You go home at night wondering if you’ve been followed”). Michael Kandel asked me what I thought of New York City, and told me “New York is not part of America”.