So I have had this from-a-distance love affair with New York for as long as I can remember (never having actually been there, unless you count a layover or two at the airport, which I don’t). So I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read Here is New York, by E.B. White (yes, that E.B. White).
Here is New York is basically an extended essay wherein White paints in beautiful prose everything that is romantic and mysterious and compelling about the City. Well, perhaps not literally everything; that would take much more than the 56 pages he devotes to it. But you get a definite glimpse, a definite flavor. It all rings very authentic and lovely.
But it’s not just the good stuff, though; there is some warts-and-all grit, but not too much. Somehow the description of the heat and the crowds and the hustle and bustle just adds to the appeal.
He recognizes that New York is a city in flux. Ever-changing. Growing. Developing. But he makes it sound very rich and diverse and exotic, even then. His view is a snapshot, a moment in time, striking a perfect balance between what is forever true about the city and what can only be remembered in longing retrospect.
He was very much “there” as he wrote, physically and artistically. He writes as passionate observer, charmed visitor, and native connoisseur all at once. It’s really quite remarkable. He sees the city through a writer’s eyes. As I would hope to see it. As I now hope to see it more than ever.
If you love New York, you should read the book. It doesn’t take long. And if you don’t love New York, read the book, and you will. I need to take a trip.