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Marvin Taylor

April 15, 2011

Marvin Taylor

When Marvin Taylor took over as Director of the Fales Library and Special Collections at New York University in 1993, the archive had a lot of novels. The core of the collection was the library of Commodore DeCoursey Fales, who set a goal to collect every novel in English and did a pretty good job of it. But Marvin had a vision for a collection that would take advantage of the vast, living archive that surrounds NYU’s Washington Square campus: the East Village and lower Manhattan. The Downtown Collection documents the literary, performance and art scene in downtown New York from the early 1970s to the present. It includes the papers of downtown luminaries Richard Hell, David Wojnarowicz, and Dennis Cooper, the archives of zines like Between C & D and Redtape, and rare film, video, and ephemera. The exhibition The Downtown Show debuted at NYU’s Grey Gallery in 2006 and traveled to the Andy Warhol Museum and the Austin Museum of Art. Marvin edited the accompanying volume The Downtown Book (Princeton UP, 2006), which includes essays by Ann Magnuson, Michael Musto, and Lydia Lunch, among others.

Another highlight of the Fales collections is the Food & Cookery Collection, which documents “food and foodways with a particular emphasis on New York City.” In 2009, Marvin acquired the Gourmet magazine collection, making Fales the largest cookbook archive in America.

The Riot Grrrl Collection is a new initiative at Fales, and includes the papers of Kathleen Hanna, Molly Neuman of Bratmobile, the Outpunk archive, and other audio, video, fanzines, and flyers from the Riot Grrrl movement.

In Marvin’s hands, the archive is alive and growing. 12 Questions is pleased to have his answers in our collection.

1. What is your hometown?

Cottage Grove, Indiana

2. With what fictional character do you most identify?

Lord Henry Wotton

3. In the movie of your life, cast an actor to play you.

John Malkovich

4. What work of art speaks to your soul?

Der Ring des Nibelungen

5. What books are you currently reading or recommending?

Just Kids, Middlesex, A Time to Be Born.

6. What song or album is currently in heavy rotation on your iPod?

The Fame Monster

7. What’s the last movie that made you cry?

True Grit, when they have to kill the pony. I’m a total softy for animals. People can go fuck themselves.

8.  Cat person or dog person?

There is no such thing as a “cat person.” That’s another term for loser.

9. What is more important, truth or kindness?


10.    How do you define sin?

Something I haven’t tried before, but want to.

11.    How do you define virtue?

“Is there such a thing as a teleological suspension of the ethical?” Damn straight.

12.   Design your headstone: What does it say? What does it look like?

I want to be cremated, added to my dogs’ ashes and dumped into the sewer on the northwest corner of Washington Square, under the “hanging tree.”

Bonus Question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?

John Waters.


The Fales Library
The Downtown Collection
The Food & Cookery Collection
The Riot Grrrl Collection

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