Alex Vadukul will be reading at  Difficult to Name on Saturday, June 10

Alex Vadukul will be reading at Difficult to Name on Saturday, June 10

You write really fantastic pieces for the New York Times. How did you first get started there?

I started writing for the Times a fairly old-fashioned way, by which I mean I sort of wrote my way into the paper. It all started in college with a small story that had a miniature-sized byline. It probably should have ended there. But then that (painstakingly) turned into two and then that became three. And then I wrote something that actually got a normal sized byline. And then after that, I was sort of like a cockroach that wouldn't die. But after a while, luck took its course, and I got blessed with a few editors that believed in me, and especially my current editor, who more or less trusts my instincts when I feel I've found a story. And here we are few years later. But one thing that I believe made a difference is that my focus was always essentially the same from day one: the city. The grand, beautiful, textured, story of New York. I was always interested in that story from day one and I knew those were the stories I wanted to write and I think that ended up becoming apparent to the people around me. 

You're such an expert on Manhattan and a lot of your work makes a great argument that there is still so much to discover and appreciate in it. Do you spend much time in the other boroughs?

I love that you asked that. Yes, I am a helpless Manhattanite, as you've obviously noticed. The borough gets a snobbish rap these days, especially among media types, but my affection for the island is really just the simple byproduct of growing up in New York since I was 7. Manhattan, of course, was a very different place in the 90s, and it was not necessarily the hub of rising rents and gigantic empty pied-à-terre condos on Park Avenue that it is today. But of course I have love for the all boroughs, and I certainly write about life outside Manhattan too. I suppose I have no real preference when it comes to where the stories are, but since Manhattan has kind of gotten tossed to the side by some, I have gotten lucky enough to find riches by putting a close lens to the island. Huh. Maybe I shouldn't be saying that aloud.

What can people expect from your reading?

I will probably have consumed a stiff drink beforehand at a bar nearby and I will try my best to not be boring. I will also try to shave, time permitting.