A PDF of In the Key of New York City: A Memoir in Essays by Rebecca McClanahan sits on my desk, held together with a big clip. The top page is stained with coffee and food and notes scribbled all over the surface. Squirrel, 9/11, cancer, God, cookies. When I first started reading the book, I had a trip to New York scheduled to present at a conference. It would be my first time there.
But as the country shut down, travel was cancelled, and New York became a spotlight of the pandemic, Rebecca’s book filled me with a sense of nostalgia for a city I’ve never been to. In the Key of New York City is perhaps Rebecca’s most intimate work. The stories interweave and bob like a heavily populated pedestrian street, and yet we are privy to the solitude of neighbors that inhabit apartments like ghosts. The pages capture and hold the days preceding and following 9/11, her cancer and recovery, her marriage, and the reading and writing that helped her survive it all.
Continue reading here.