Public Speaking

A Chat With Fran Lebowitz

Since the 1970s, writer Fran Lebowitz has been one of New York City's most important social critics. In 2010, HBO aired Public Speaking, a Martin Scorsese-directed documentary in which Lebowitz opines with characteristic trenchancy on everything from the touristification of Times Square to the concept of fame to her dislike of digital clocks. Last month, Random House released an audio book of The Fran Lebowitz Reader, a collection of essays from her best-selling titles Metropolitan Life (first published in 1978) and Social Studies (1981). I recently spoke to Lebowitz by phone, and we talked about New York and its various incarnations over the past four decades.