Rebecca McClanahan’s In the Key of New York City: A Memoir in Essays is an exploration of what it means to live in a place, and, in fact, what it means to live at all. It’s a haunting book, with many detailed glimpses into the everyday realities of apartment-dwelling, rent-paying, and meaning-making in a city that’s at once glorious and difficult. This book is a love letter to New York—a letter that, perhaps, both we and the city need now more than ever.
I read this book in the middle of the COVID 19 pandemic, and as I read, I couldn’t help but think of New York in the grips of the virus, reeling from grief, loss, and confusion. And yet, despite everything, it’s also a city discovering, as it always seems to, a spirit of shared humanity and community.
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