Likes Austin weird

That’s the blurb for Benjamin Markovitz, writing a “Diary” entry in the September 1 issue of the London Review of Books (it takes a log-in to view the article, and sometimes that doesn’t even work correctly).

This is a guy who grew up here in Austin, within walking distance of the Half Price Books location just vacated and within smelling distance of Passage To India (now Chango’s), and he writes describing how he thinks Austin looks to an Englishman visiting for the first time.

One of his opening statements is: “Austin, as it approaches, will betray its insignificance by little vanities.” He says that “Austin has lost the battle for unself-consciousness” and that “business habits have begun to erode the thoughtful sloth on which the locals pride themselves.” He reports that Austin is “a city in which a college education can, without shame, take twenty years.”

He goes on to say that there is “something enviable about the city’s provincialism.” Spider House is mentioned by name; also described, though not named, are Jo’s Hot Coffee and the Hyde Park Gym.” Generally, he does not seem to be fond of Austin’s built environment, but he does say that Austin is “the place where it would be too easy to be happy.”

Whatever he means by that. LRB is at the main library branch and at BookPeople (this is all on page 35).

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