I’ve just written a series of articles about my experiences in New York City, when I lived in Greenwich Village and worked at the American Center of PEN, the international literary organization. Here, in case you are gnashing your teeth about missing any of them, is an index to these articles. Also, this gives me a chance to answer two questions: why did I turn back to time over half my life ago for these articles, and why did I not mention any unforgettable New Yorkers?
My Unforgettable New York City
“My Unforgettable New York City Sidewalk Experience” – Read it.
Take an expensive light bulb, a brandy flask, and a coyote (well, half-coyote) on a leash, and you can learn what makes this city and its inhabitants so special.
“My Unforgettable New York City Restaurant Experience” – Read it.
Some friends and I wandered through a foggy night in Chinatown, where we joined together with some blue collar workers and two couples in evening dress, for a meal that could never be repeated.
“My Unforgettable New York City Theater Experience” – Read it.
Only in New York could I end up on a high platform with a pillow, a live snake, and the devil.
“My Unforgettable New York City Multilingual Experience” – Read it.
No, it was not the time I got stuck in a closet with my Danish boss, our Hasidic printer, and his Puerto Rican helper. This story involves a cute little girl and an ugly frog, who taught me a lesson about language that I am still trying to understand.
“My Unforgettable New York City Unicorn Hunt” – Read it.
I found myself leading a group hunting unicorns on the northern end of Manhattan Island. I also found myself writing a series of articles on unicorns.
“My Unforgettable New York City Subway Experience” – Read it.
If you want to meet a prince, head for the subway!
“The Poet William Butler Yeats Threw Me Out of New York City” – Read it.
All good things must come to an end. Sometimes, it takes a poet to convince you.
Why did I write about New York City?
I decided to write about New York City because my parents, both natives of Georgia, got married in Alaska in the 1940s. It occurred to me on their anniversary this year that they did not live in Alaska as long as I lived in New York City, but their adventures in Alaska are myths in my conscience and in the traditions of my family. My experiences in New York City, three decades later, are part of my own myth and tradition.
I suppose if a young couple from Alaska had moved to Georgia for a few months or if a New Yorker had moved from New York to my little hometown in Georgia for two years, the experiences would have seemed as exotic.
Why did I not write about any unforgettable New Yorkers?
Probably because there were so many, I would not know with whom to begin. When I write, I am very protective of people I know. But years ago, I wrote an article about one of the most unforgettable people I have ever met, my writing teacher and fellow Villager Marguerite Young, author of one of the great American novel, Miss MacIntosh, My Darling.
One problem is that Marguerite was definitely a Villager; in fact, she was the first person of whom I heard it said that she was the kind of Villager who gets a nosebleed if she goes north of Fourteenth Street. A proud daughter of Indiana, she was a Hoosier, but somehow, I do not believe that she would have worn comfortably the label New Yorker.
You can share my “Love Song for an Author” here.
I agree with O. Henry, who sketched out an unforgettable New York somewhat older than mine. In his work The Four Million (here) he writes:
Not very long ago some one invented the assertion that there were only “Four Hundred” people in New York City who were really worth noticing. But a wiser man has arisen–the census taker–and his larger estimate of human interest has been preferred in marking out the field of these little stories of the “Four Million.”