Tuesday, November 2, 2010
A Writer In the City
The one-graf bio on my book jacket states that I live on Long Island. But no more. This past summer my husband and I, after 26 years in the 'burbs, moved back to the city, to the Upper West Side, where my grandparents, then parents lived, and where I was born, and where Nick and I first met, more than 35 years ago, and where our first son, Alex, was born. I wrote my first book, a bio of the great urban thinker Jane Jacobs, and then THE FLATIRON in my house in the suburbs, in isolation, and it felt all wrong to be stuck out there, writing about the city. All the while, I was longing to be living where my narratives were taking place. New York is my home, and I'm finally home again. Now I wake up every day and buy my newspaper from the little Yemeni-owned store down the block and my fruit from the Bengali guy on the corner who's there 24-hours-a-day in the summer (yes, I'm indulging myself here with a play on Jane Jacobs' famous "sidewalk ballet" in THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES.) When I turn onto Broadway, I look over the used books for sale on the tables lining the sidewalk. I admire the buildings along West End Avenue--I live just steps from the Ansonia, Henry Hardenbergh's gorgeous Beaux-Arts extravaganza. I subway around, often debarking at the 23rd Street station for no particular reason, and walking towards the Flatiron Building. Guess I'm not finished with it yet, even though the book's written. The Flatiron pulls me in, like pins towards a magnet. I don't try to resist its pull. That's how it is with stories: you just follow them, before you know what they are. When it's time to put them into words, you'll know.