Ben McGrath in The New Yorker:
A room of one’s own, in which to write: it’s an old and chronically romanticized idea—the solitary space, with an ashtray, an Olivetti, the morning light just so. Each writer has his own preferences and fetishes, of course. For Proust, it was walls insulated with cork, to keep sound out. For Bellow, a tilted drafting table, so that he could write standing up. Cheever looked out a window facing the woods; Hawthorne turned his back on one. Joseph Heller worked atop a shag carpet. The ideal persists, in a wireless age. Amy Tan surrounds herself with furniture from Imperial China.
In Queens, recently, an artists’ collective called Flux Factory commissioned architects to design three writers’ “habitats”—human terrariums, essentially, into which writers would move for a month’s time, as part of a “living installation” called “novel.” Three subjects relocated to the boxlike spaces about a week ago, and on June 4th they are expected to emerge with finished books…
The week before the writers moved in, Flux’s president, Morgan Meis, gave a tour of the unfinished boxes. “This one is pretty much a hobbit hole,” he said of the first box, which was constructed mostly from found materials, bounty from a month’s worth of “dumpster diving” by its designer, Ian Montgomery. Meis sat down and made a serious face, impersonating a writer. “So you sit here and concentrate, and you look out,” he said, gesturing toward a dirt trough, where fast-growing grasses were to be planted, “to mark the passage of time.”