in print

Summer prints get book smart on
Kathleen Alcott, author of the novel
Infinite Home, out in paperback this month.

PHOTOGRAPHED BY PETER ASH LEE
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Kathleen Alcott’s second novel Infinite Home revolves around a Brooklyn brownstone and the intersecting lives of the tenants who live within it. Here, the author invites usinto her own Brooklyn home and takes on a different kind of print—our favorite florals, stripes, and patterns.

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Did you write Infinite Home in this house?

I didn’t start it in this house, but I finished the first draft here on the last day of 2013. I started it when I first moved to New York, when I didn’t really know anyone. It was an attempt to understand how people who weren’t equipped and ambitious and driven—all the things the city seems to require—how people like that would function.

What is the writing process like for you?

I’m not really for the treatment of any art form, but particularly writing, as some temperamental other force that you have to let come into your life. So I try and sit down by like 10 a.m. and work until 4 or 5 p.m...I generally have a quota of words that I try to meet. Sometimes that means you have 500 words of bad writing, but the writer’s greatest tool is revision, right?
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But you know,
a book is a world
in and of itself.”
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I have maybe two nice T-shirts... but I have 50 cocktail dresses from the ’60s.”

Your home seems very important to you—how did you
go about designing and furnishing it?

Mostly we just went to different flea markets around New York. I think we were thinking about things that would have a relationship with each other—we definitely weren’t looking for a lot of matching or coordinating things.

Do you have that same attitude toward your clothes?

Absolutely. To a fault, probably. You know, I have maybe two nice T—shirts...but I have 50 cocktail dresses from the ’60s. Although I’ve moved slightly away from that—I have a few more things that have been made in the past 20 years. [laughs] I’m really moved by individual pieces. I never want to run into anyone on the subway wearing the same thing.

Who are some of your design icons? Anyone or anything that inspires you aesthetically?

Well, if we’re talking about clothing—like Mark Bolan, Joan Didion. I feel like that Klimt painting, Woman In Gold , is so beautiful. I always think about that—that’s the way that I want to feel and look, somehow.
 
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I’m really moved by individual pieces. I never want to run into anyone on the subway wearing the same thing.”
 

What about books—what are some of your favorites?

Salter’s Light Years . Don DeLillo’s Underworld . Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway . Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude . Joy Williams’s The Quick & the Dead , also Joy Williams’s Breaking & Entering . Junichiro Tanizaki’s The Makioka Sisters .

Are you precious about your books, like how you treat them as possessions?

I’m mostly of the opinion that a book is something you really interact with, and if you love it, you’re probably taking it with you on the subway and you’re reading it while you’re eating. Although if I have a nice first edition, I try not to dirty it. But you know, a book is a world in and of itself. So I don’t care too much about the pages and the binding and the cover.

What are you writing now?

It is titled America Was Hard to Find , which comes from the title of a book by this priest Daniel Berrigan, who was imprisoned for burning draft cards. The novel concerns the intersection of the Apollo Program and anti-Vietnam War radicalism, two very different arms of the Cold War. The phrase “America Was Hard To Find" comes from the Robert Frost poem “America Is Hard To See,” so I like that there’s a through-line there.
Shop Prints
 

Celebrate the paperback release of Kathleen Alcott’s Infinite Home at the Strand at Club Monaco with a reading by the author .

Tuesday, July 26 at 6 p.m. 160 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010 rsvp@clubmonaco.com
 
 
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