New York City Novels

I hate stories set in New York City. They are always about orphans caught up in something outside their normal bounds – racketeering, art, politics – some unseemly underbelly that reveals the garish and ugly roots of humanity and society – the unpromising face or series of gears that keeps the mechanical world alive, but draws at the spiritual center for energy. These stories are an escape. And escape requires conditions of loneliness, of defeat, of dissatisfaction, elements of despair.

These stories: they are not about any world I see and know. Any world you see and care about – otherwise you, the you-you, you would be not be reading this. It’d be boring, stulting, dead. You live in Manhattan after all. The center of the world. Who gives a fuck about regular people?

Why can’t anyone be direct and convincing about their life without an angle of artifice, a dollar dangling in front, another pretense or a complication? Everything now is a reference, an illusion, a lonely work towered upon other lonely works done by lonely people. Most of these writers seem to be loneliness within loneliness, trapped in some insufferable maze. The world has enough metaphors. The world is plenty confused without any more cringing equivocations or reached symbols. The world has enough clutter.

So don’t tell me another a story about New York City. Don’t give me another novel about a kid growing up rough in the city, how New Yorkers only care to know about New York City – don’t give me that story because I won’t take it with me. Don’t give me another weak metaphor for NYC as a father, or a brother, or the gridded connectivity of our lives in the invisible connections just past our reach, don’t tell me that the power and the money hide away the mysteries of the world, don’t suggest the subway can be the arteries of our blood, don’t take the shit that the changing, breathing tide, the city its epicenter, is a life-giving force. Don’t tell me the city is a metaphor for everything we can or won’t be.

Because it’s bullshit. All of it. Every word is a deceit, a gimmick for a dollar. Every metaphor is a drawn-out lie by someone who doesn’t know how to be direct, how barely knows who they are as a person. And though I have never been to New York City, it seems like an apt enough description of everyone there to sate whatever lingering curiosities exist.

So don’t give me anymore stories about New York City. Because nobody outside of it really gives a shit.

 

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