As it’s one of my favourite places in the entire world, I wanted to write a post on the things – the TV programmes, the films, the books – that sum up the magic of New York. I’ve been a couple of times before but I’m returning this December for the third time – and it’s the first time I’ve been there at Christmas. As you can imagine, I’m VERY excited. As with all of these places, it probably isn’t as magic if you actually live there but to me, it will always be special. So, here’s what, for me, sums up the magic of New York.
The entire SATC series was an ode to the magic of New York. There were really five leading characters in the programme, and two great loves of Carrie’s life – the first was Big and the second will always be New York. It can’t have only been me whose heart broke when Carrie moved to Paris – thank goodness she came back.
As I’ve mentioned (in this post and to everyone else I know), I’m going to New York, the most Christmassy place in the world, during the festive season this year. I’ve grown up watching Home Alone, Miracle on 34th Street, Elf…nothing can be more magical than skating under that huge tree or walking in Central Park in the snow!
The book and the film. The book is great; I think the idea of picking up and leaving, to appear in New York as a someone new appeals to everyone in some way. I think the film spoke more of our love affair with New York – who hasn’t dreamt of wandering the streets in pearls and a little black dress? And the scene near the end, where they’re caught in the rain? Most cities look bleak in the rain and the gloom – New York glows.
This book is heartbreaking. It’s important, so you should read it, but that’s a pre-warning for you. However, Sophie’s Choice is also the story of Stingo, a Southern writer who moves to Brooklyn to try to make it as a writer. It’s as much the story of his discovery of himself and the community he finds himself in as it is about the terrible moment revealed at the end of the novel, and the consequences of that moment.
Because you can’t beat the classics and no song will ever sum up the city as well as this one does. I wish I was around at the sort of time this song was first released – New York seemed like such a city of glamour and possibilities back then.
After that last point, I thought it would appropriate to put a qualifier in, in the form of Bret Easton Ellis’ brutal novel. Everything we hear about the city in the '80s – the decadence and the glamour – is horribly subverted by the infamous Patrick Bateman. Tough but brilliant reading.
Finally, Central Park. It isn’t a film, or a book, or a piece of music, but it always features so heavily in all of those things that I wanted to include it here. We have lots of parks dotted around London, but you can’t feel the seasons changing in the same way. They all kind of blur into one – I imagine Central Park is the perfect place to feel the air change around you and to watch as the leaves turn colour.
It’s always difficult to sum up a city in writing about it, especially in so limited a space. I don’t think you can ever really ‘get it’ until you’ve been there for yourself. One of my strongest memories from when I was younger is standing in the pouring rain on a street corner, waiting to cross the road and being completely oblivious to the soaking I was about to get from a passing yellow taxi, because I was too busy staring at all the hundreds of lights and lives twinkling around me. That’s what I think about when I think about New York. What do you think about?
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