Patrick McGrath is the author of two short story collections, Blood and Water and Other Tales and Ghost Town, and seven previous novels including Asylum, Martha Peake, Dr. Haggard’s Disease and Port Mungo. His novel, Spider, was filmed in 2001 by acclaimed director David Cronenberg, from McGrath’s script. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in the United Kingdom and a member of PEN America and the Writers Guild of America East. His most recent book, Trauma, is a dark psychological drama full of love and loss set against the back- drop of 1970s New York, just as the Twin Towers were going up. 12th Street met with Patrick McGrath at Cafe Loup on a Monday night before his seminar at The New School.
12th street: Your latest novel, Trauma, focuses on the New York City of the past—a city that’s gritty, drug-filled and economically barren. How do you feel about the city as it is today?
Patrick McGrath: I really don’t like that the city is so rich and clean and safe. It was none of those things back in the seventies. I have nostalgia for the New York I came to at the end of that decade, when it was dirty and dangerous; artists could afford to live in Manhattan then and you had to watch yourself on the street. I enjoyed New York very much in those days, and while I suppose in one way it’s a good thing that the place is rich and clean and safe, at the same time there is a sense that something—some edge—has been lost. I remember when the High- line was a ruin, something you avoided on Tenth Avenue.