Michelle Dean is a journalist and critic who lives in New York. Her writing has appeared online and in print at the New Yorker, The Nation, ELLE, Slate, The Awl, The Rumpus and a variety of other places.
At seven o’clock, the first polls closed and I arrived, thinking I’d be early, to the Housing Works Used Bookstore in SoHo. But it was already standing room only. The AIDS-charity-owned venue, tucked away on Crosby Street, is one of the last holdouts of the artsy, progressive SoHo before the ibankers moved in. It turns into a cavernous performance space most nights of the week. Increasingly, it is the last Manhattan foothold of the bookish creative class that has now largely decamped to Brooklyn, who are packed together like fair-trade sardines tonight. The place is all Strand canvas tote bags and hand-knit caps, most people double-fisting Brooklyn-Lager-with-phone and a paper cup full of chili, which had been highlighted in the ads for the event as much-needed “comfort food.” The average age has to be under thirty, though here and there I see beards of serious vintage.