Christopher Bollen is a writer based in New York.
What artworks would you have/do you have in your drawing room?
I’ve written about art my entire adult life, but—to my own regret—I’ve never been much of a buying collector. Most of my personal works have been given to me by artist friends. In my drawing room, I have a few drawings by Wade Guyton (two of which are from his New York Times series with the online front pages corresponding to my birthday—one from the headline of Fidel Castro’s death). I have an amazing graphite work from Judith Eisler that captures the scene of Sissy Spacek on stage caught in the glare of lights in Coal Miner’s Daughter. I have an LSD-laced owl by Kenneth Anger. And I have a number of batik paintings of family members done by my mother in the 1970s.
What books would you read/are you reading in your drawing room?
One day, mark my words, I will be swallowed up by the quicksand of books in my apartment. There should be a special book-hoarding intervention for me. Most of them are piled three deep on the shelves in my office, but in my drawing room I have the three-part Graham Greene biography by Norman Sherry (I’m still in part one, mid World War II). I’m rereading Auden poems lately. And then there are the galleys: the books of the future, which stare me down in one corner, and I never am sure if they are friends or enemies of my novels.
What movies would you watch/are you watching in your drawing room?
Look, I know everyone has their favorite Miss Marple, just like everyone grows up with their own James Bond. But for me, the BBC Agatha Christies never got better than 1980s Joan Hickson, which I can watch over and over on my sofa on a sick day. But right now, I’m going through a lot of Dario Argento and Mario Bava films as research for a new book idea.
What music would you listen to/are you listening to in your drawing room?
Schubert piano or Schubert violins—any flea market record will do. But I really only listen to music at night. I write in silence, and in the mornings or during the day, I’ll more likely be listening to a tennis tournament on the radio or trying (and always failing) to learn Italian. Also, I live in a building filled with orchestral musicians on the Upper West Side. They all moved in in the 1970s when the rents were cheap and never left. So there is always a neighbor practicing—trumpet, piano, sax, violas… music wafting through every window and wall.
Who would you/do you invite into your drawing room?
My boyfriend, but he lives with me, so that’s no surprise to find him there. You know, so many friends live downtown and they still abide by that obnoxious old rule of not traveling above 23rd Street. Visitors to 104th Street are relatively rare. Don’t they know that downtown is awful and all the best parts of Manhattan are uptown now?