In the latest account of the Virginia Quarterly Review tragedy, VQR contributor Tom Bissell writes in The New York Observer that managing editor Kevin Morrissey's suicide note didn't blame editor Ted Genoways for Morrissey's action. But in the e-mail Genoways sent to contributors and friends explaining the circumstances of Morrissey's death on July 30 (which Bissell amply mentions), it says—according to Morrissey's family—that the suicide note did indeed fault Genoways. I don't know if anyone aside from Morrissey's family has seen the missive to provide independent corroboration, but if Bissell has, he might clarify.
Subsequently, Morrissey's sister Maria has said the suicide note did not blame Genoways, but if that's the case, why did Genoways say in his email that the family told him it did cite him?
A redacted image of the putative suicide note is here.
Below is the e-mail Genoways sent in full.
An incredible group of writers, capped by Toni Morrison, will be reading this year as part of the Writers at Newark series at Rutgers University, where I start my MFA studies in fiction September 1st.
Glancingly I'd seen mentions of this putative locavore resto in the East Village, and then my silver-haired guru, discerner of discerners, did repeat business there. So last night I checked it out. I didn't have any expectations, in keeping with my ambition to be Zen at all times, and the menu posted at their website looked neither amazing nor horrible. (It did, however, list a chilled cauliflower soup, so clearly it hadn't been updated in awhile. Note to restaurateurs, especially purveyors of seasonal fare: please get with it!) And—I don't know why this surprised me, but it did—the food turned out to be neither amazing nor horrible. I was glad to have tried it, but there will be no repeat business from this discerner.
The problems started with the caveat at the bottom of the menu (which, en suite, featured a watermelon gazpacho instead of the cauliflower; alas, I didn't have it): "Northern Food Spy Co. aims to source and serve food produced by regional farmers and artisan purveyors whenever possible." Huh? "Aims"? "Whenever possible"? Why such qualifications? It's very possible to use local sources exclusively—lots of eateries do so. Also, I don't like to see shortcomings advertised.
Then the wine: a Lambrusco that paled in comparison to a bottle I'd recently snagged at Williamsburg's UVA wine shop, and, subsequently, a chilled Gamay that was absolutely tasteless, as if it had been opened days before. (Both glasses were served already poured—quelle horreur!) The Banker had a house-made lemon-lime seltzer that could've used more oomph. I wanted to taste the bracing lemon and lime flavors, not tolerate faint outlines of them.
Indeed, the food could've been more bracing too. The heirloom-tomato salad, a special, was fine but should've been glorious (they're heirloom tomatoes!), though the risotto of freekeh (an Arab bulgur-like wheat), snap peas, zucchini, and mascarpone had a lovely loamy quality. The three fat meatballs I had for my main dish, composed of heritage pork and dotted with pecorino, were better than fine but made me wistful for Marco Canora's veal-and-ricotta wonders, my personal standard. (My mom makes some mean meatballs too.) The "Long Island market fish" was striped bass, which doesn't scream Long Island to me, but the Banker found it delicious nonetheless. I scraped the dish containing a side of wild rice, feta, mint, and lemon, served at room temperature. The peach pie with burnt-sugar ice cream was kaput for the day, so we recalcitrantly opted for the buttermilk panna cotta, tangily superb. If only its surface hadn't been invaded by berries, thus masking the taste.
The restaurant has a great, if modest, beer program, boasting four craft varieties on tap, six in the bottle, and a can of Porkslap for a cool four bucks. (Why drink PBR when you can get a local version?) And our server was delightful. She even checked on the Banker after an especially hot shishito shard (part of the bass dish) entered his gullet and he copiously downed a few glasses of water. "Do you need some milk?"
As we gathered to leave, one of my favorite songs, "Jane Says," came on, the latest in a string of '90s indie classics on the stereo that night (note to trend watchers). I hadn't heard it in forever and it thrilled me. Would that the food had been as specific and memorable. Try again tomorrow.
Northern Spy Food Co., 511 E. 12th St. b/w A and B, 212-228-5100, www.northernspyfoodco.com. Image courtesy of the Cheery Observations blog, which also includes notes on how to make the restaurant's kale salad.