Sarah Vowell is a New York Times best-selling author and cultural troublemaker we have a great deal of respect for. Ms. Vowell is also board president for 826NYC — a non-profit in Brooklyn supporting the writing lives of kids. We’re hosting a party on October 24 at Ace Hotel New York with 826NYC that celebrates superhero outfits designed and created by Opening Ceremony, Jack Spade, Christian Joy and others. Get tickets here.
We asked Sarah more about 826, and about herself.
You’ve been called a “social observer,” an author, essayist and commentator. You’ve also written six books and innumerable essays, and have done voice-over for the animated film, The Incredibles. If you had to find someone to do your job for you, what’s a short list of requirements you would post on Craigslist for potential candidates?
Writing about history for people who do not care about history, i.e., Americans, requires the patience to sift through the occasionally action-packed yet mostly tedious paper trail of the long dead. And I do mean paper trail — there’s a lot of paging through moldy old books and newspapers and sitting in archives reading crumbling letters written in a cursive so frilly and outmoded and impenetrable you find yourself momentarily charmed by demonic imperialists who have the courtesy to buy a new-fangled gadget called a typewriter. Also, what is Craigslist?
What do you love about 826NYC, and how do you feel about being the board president?
I love our space: the tongue-in-cheek professionalism of our storefront, the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co., and the homey tutoring center itself, reached through a secret door in the bookcase of the superhero store. It started out as this empty room without a floor and now the walls are covered with student artwork and movie posters from our students’ films. Walk in there on any given day and the place is alive with the most lovable and curious gaggle of students being looked after (and listened to) by the hardest working, most caring and good-natured staff and volunteers.
Are you going to wear superhero gear to the fashion show at Ace Hotel?
I’ll be dressed as my altar ego, a rumpled and grim middle-aged writer.
It’s a predictable question, but — if you could have one superpower for real, what would you pick?
I would love to have the power of time travel. Not to live in the past as I am a woman and the descendant of peasants and dispossessed Indians but it would sure make fact-checking my books a lot easier.
Photo by George Fok