THE LITTLE CITY FIVE: Adam Gopnik

1.     Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly?
Oh, Astaire no question. Who said that the difference between them was the best definition of what genius is and what talent is?  Astaire at his peak , and he was rarely off peak – look at the lateish “Dancing In The Dark” duet in “The Bandwagon” – seems to me not just a sublime dancer but a sublime actor, summoning emotion in the turn of a knee.  But having said that – to use Larry David’s turn – I suspect that I am myself more in the Kelly  line: energetic, ambitious, intellectually athletic, and sometimes off putting for those reasons.

2.     "We went to MoMA" or "We went to the MoMA?"
The MOMA is right “to MOMA” is natural. There’s a whole chapter  in my book about working there, and the insiders never used the article.

3.If you could choose any Manhattan neighborhood to live in now, which would you choose?
I think I would love to go back to the Soho of my youth, elegized in “Stranger’s Gate” – I love the cast iron facades, the cobblestone streets, the mystery at midnight, and the long view up Mercer Street, bounded, as if with two exclamation points, by  the two most romantic of skyscrapers, the Woolworth Building to the South and the Chrysler Building to the north. But overrun with mall-shoppers, as it is now, I doubt that I could love it again.. The West Village, for cozy, has a lot to be said for it. My own Upper East Side/Carnegie Hill is geriatric – for all the schoolchildren who parade around in it – but does have the inestimable virtue of being near Olmsted’s imperishable park.

4.Name a favorite book from childhood; teen years; adulthood (1 each)
a.     Childhood: The Thurber Carnival
b.     Teen years: The Lord Of The Rings
c.     Adulthood: Proust’s “Remembrance Of Things Past” and yes I prefer Scott-Moncrieff’s title to the more literal “In Search Of Lost Time.” ( The closer English equivalent to the original would be something like” The Pursuit Of The Past”, a title more poetic than scientific.) 

5.     What comes to mind when you hear the word Hoboken?
One thing, one thing only, one thing forever, the voice of the most swinging and yet saddest singer who has ever lived. Sinatra.