Now, thanks to the present literary apotheosis of Ethan Hawke, Hollywood's anomie pin-up boy, even obscure New Yorkers with more grey cells than greenbacks have a good chance of getting a date. It was in October that the steamy young Renaissance goatee came out with a novel called The Hottest State. The subject was "50 to 80 per cent" his own recent failed love affair with a real-life local lass. When he made his appearance at a toney bookstore downtown at the end of the month, hundreds of irrepressible lovers of literature shoe-horned themselves into the shop to pay tribute to the young auteur.
All at once, Manhattanites of both sexes now can be seen racing to libraries and bookstores, and affecting squints and nervous tics. At Paul Stuart on Madison Avenue and at Joel Name in SoHo, they queue up to buy $500 pairs of specs, the more unflattering, the better. Shop windows lure young would-be eggheads with Underwood typewriters and handsewn volumes of Shaw and Moliere. Meanwhile, young shoppers snatch up the pricey specs and head off to the nearest Irish pub, where the sage new eyewear gives them new gravitas. If they don't have the money for the specs, they dye their hair Warhol white, or cultivate a 19th-century tubercular cough. All this because the venerable Hawke (who turned 26 this week) proved his mettle by writing a novel, acting in one (Great Expectations) and holding the attention of Uma Thurman.
The spread of Starbucks Coffee chains and Barnes and Nobles bookstores may have laid the groundwork, but New Yorkers blame Hawke most for the current vogue of books in cafes, from Edgar's on the Upper West Side to Cousin John's in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Not that New Yorkers are actually reading books: what with all the movies and opticians' appointments to fit in, where would they find the time?Reuse content