New York Obsession

While I was preparing for my reading at Thame Arts and Literary Festival on Saturday it occurred to me that some people might think I’m obsessed with New York. The modern half of my novel Out of Such Darkness is set in its suburbs and my contribution to the Patrician Press anthology Refugees and Peacekeepers was a short story inspired by the rumour that on 9/11 somebody had managed to ‘surf’ down from the roof of one of the buildings as it collapsed and had survived to tell the tale.
The story I read on Saturday was one I had submitted for the next Patrician Press anthology Tempest. It is set in New York’s Chelsea Hotel in 1978.
My job took me, my wife and younger daughter to live in New York State from 2000 to 2003 and the experience clearly affected me more than I had acknowledged at the time. Manhattan is a uniquely vibrant city and we felt privileged to be able to take a train or car into its centre and stroll its streets whenever the mood took us. There’s a New York way of walking: you stretch your neck to admire the architecture hundreds of feet above you while, at the same time, looking ahead to bustle your way through the crowds and adhere to the ‘Walk’, ‘Don’t walk’ signs at the intersections that trip you every fifty yards.
As I write this I find myself asking the question: What can be more ‘New York’ than watching the musical 42nd Street in a theater (mis-spelling intended) on 42nd Street? (Which is something we did with my parents.) As if to answer it another New York story starts to bubble.

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Robert Ronsson

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10 2018

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