Lifestyle

Inside The Paris Review's NYC Digs

It was 51 years ago in Paris that a trio of American writers launched a quarterly literary publication that would eventually go on to introduce and highlight many of contemporary literature's brightest stars. The Paris Review, which recently published its 210th issue, has grown into a bastion of expert writing. It has shepherded some of the most celebrated writers into the literary consciousness (early names include Jack Kerouac and Philip Roth), and more recently, pushers of modern luminaries like Jeffrey Eugenides and Jonathan Franzen. Needless to say, it's a kingmaker for those whose medium is the written word.

It may no longer be published from the City Of Lights, but the institution hums as smoothly as ever from an eclectically decorated, modest office space in Manhattan. We were lucky enough to get a peek inside with help from our photographer pal Paul Barbera. It's like pulling back the curtain on a room where writers' dreams are made manifest.

You may expect a title with such a rich history and dignity to have a more regal entrance. But that's not TPR's style. It's like the exact opposite of Conde Nast's 4 Times Square—an inconspicuous office door in Chelsea.

In keeping with their brand identity, which by and large values substance before style, there's little fanfare as you enter the office suite. It rightfully evokes the reality that you are about to enter a serious literary magazine, so act like it.

Then you walk in, and all bets are off. The myriad shelves are lined with, you guessed it, books. But also, scattered with archive issues and manuscripts. Not to mention a whole bunch of taxidermy and similar ephemera, which altogether create an environment that, for lack of a better term, feels like an imaginarium.

As they say, nothing adds charm like a dead pheasant lording over the stacks.

Vintage harpoon? Sure, why not! 

Even the desk set-up looks comfortable, and not unlike the one of your favorite college English professor. Cubicles unwelcome.

Sure, their archive has been digitized, but you could probably find a copy of nearly any back issue here. Stacks on stacks on stacks.

The mid-century modern vibes are strong in this corner, with these wooden sculptures perched atop an upright piano. If it weren't for the computer monitors intermittently situated on the desks, the space could easily double for the living room of your "cool" aunt and uncle who lived in Greenwich Village back when it mattered.

The space occasionally hosts events to celebrate authors or the like, and there's ample seating to accommodate. If this set up doesn't scream Literary Salon!, then you have never heard of nor seen a literary salon.

In case you forget what they're all about, these vintage typewriters will set you straight. We're betting Tom Hanks would love it here.

Boot, wingtip, desert boot, sandal. It's a wise man whose office footwear game is prepared for anything. Also, could any of these be more beautifully broken in?

Quite the middle finger to anyone who thinks people who work for an esteemed literary journal don't know how to rip it up after hours. This pool table is begging to be used.

TPR may look slightly different these days (especially if you're flipping through its pages from your iPad), but there's no denying these seemingly ordinary bound periodicals, and the office from which it's published have had an immense influence on the trajectory of some of the most prominent writers of the last half-century.


Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor. He weighs office pool table at or above the same level as coffee and snacks, in terms of in-office amenities.