McClanahan, Rebecca: In the Key of New York City: A Memoir in Essays
In the Key of New York City: A Memoir in Essays by Rebecca McClanahan (Red Hen Press, paperback)
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Against the advice of family and friends, a middle-aged couple leaves their home and jobs in North Carolina to pursue a long-held desire: to live in New York City. As they struggle to find work and forge friendships in a city of strangers, Rebecca decides to take her mother's advice to "make a home wherever you land." She finds it in surprising ways: in overheard conversations on park benches and subway stations, in songs and cries sifted through apartment walls, in the oil-spilled rainbow colors of the pigeons who mate on the window air conditioner, and in encounters with street people dispensing unexpected wisdom. The 9/11 attacks and a serious cancer surgery turn her attention inward: to memories of marital affairs and separation, the deaths of mentors and friends, and to the books and poems that have always sustained her. Inner and outer landscapes merge, her life touching the lives of the now-familiar strangers. Alternating between brief vignettes and sustained narratives, Rebecca McClanahan tracks the heartbeat of New York, finding in each face she meets the cumulative loss, joy, and stubborn resilience of a city that has claimed her for its own.