Gmail tells me that it was in 2011 that I was introduced to Foster Goldstrom, an art collector and dealer who lives in a wonderful Bernard Maybeck house in South Berkeley. When I had turned 60, I had started to think about what might happen to my work after I die. I’d done a good job handling Mary Ann’s work, but it had been beyond time consuming, and I didn’t want to leave a job like that to my heirs. I shared these thoughts with Foster, and he put our encounter into his mental Rolodex.

Four years later, I got a frantic message from him: “Send me a copy of your book! I’m in New York! I may have found someone who’s interested in this work!” Though I had only a few left, I Fed Exed him a hardback copy. A few months later, I got word that he’d shown it to Glenn Horowitz, a specialist in literary estates. Horowitz had sold Nabokov’s estate to the New York Public Library, and he thought they’d be interested in Alphabet City. I enlisted Eve’s help, she got him down to the loft, she was my negotiator, she and Glenn came up with a price, and the library agreed to pay it. The deal wasn’t finalized until 2016, but the Geoffrey Biddle Alphabet City Papers are now among the manuscripts of the NYPL.

Eve and I, and our colleague Ryan Speth, collected many prints of pictures that aren’t in the book as part of the package for the Library. Looking at these outtakes highlights the choices that we make in putting together projects, articles, exhibitions, and books. The story we tell today may not be the story we tell tomorrow.

Kelly Nowels