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"There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes this city for granted and accepts its size and turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter -- the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these three trembling cities the greatest is the last -- the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York's high-strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion."
--E.B. White, "Here Is New York"
Having just finished one novel and in search of something new to read, I took down from a shelf this week a very slim volume given by an aquaintance just after 9/11: the elegant stylist E.B. White's essay on the city in which he lived and worked, "Here is New York". I thought reading what White wrote in his clean, bright prose, in a sweltering hotel room in the city in the summer of 1948, would be the perfect memorial and tribute to a city that, more than any other, belongs to everybody. I thought I'd offer a few excerpts during the week. There are bits that sound like eerie premonitions (he wrote of the city as a target for destruction by planes) but I think it's easy and trite to look for this kind of backward compatibility. Instead, I want to offer White's vision of a city full of power and pathos, love and loneliness, possibility and failure. This is today's, on the eve of a sad anniversary. Hope you enjoyed it.
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Copyright 2003 Karlin Lillington
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