â™¥ Earlier this week, I shared my thoughts on the lovely, important Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu. (Kirkus called her a ‘masterful wordsmith’ recently, and I couldn’t agree more.) I’m excited to host her on RBR as she chats about the setting of her new novel: New York City. Reading over her experience, I discovered how similar mine is. New York may be the city of dreams but it’s also a difficult place to live. It gives you the space to be independent and while that can be empowering, it can be downright lonely. After years of wanting to live here, I finally did back in 2004 and you know what I remember? Crying a lot. I didn’t stay long, and wasn’t sure I would be back. But a few years later, I made my return and I honestly believe that first experience made this one so much better. Anyway… big thanks to Corey for writing this great piece about the Big Apple and the necessary steps to making the most out of your summer here.
I moved to NYC when I was eighteen, at the end of August in 2001. I loved the city immediately — it was my dream to move here, and I felt at home in a way that was new and exciting and so, so right. A lot happened in 2001 in the city, and although it was a painful time, it was also a moment when I understood what community meant and what a place like New York has to offer if you want to make it your home.
I made it my home, and it’s taken me until Making Pretty to start writing books set here. I think it will be hard to stop now that I’ve started. For this book, I wanted to capture what it was like to be a teenager in NYC, so I set it where I was when I was teenager here. I started to become who I am now back in August 2001. I believe New York lets you do that. New York doesn’t tell you what to wear or who to love. It doesn’t tell you what to eat, but it gives you every option imaginable. It doesn’t tell you there’s only one way to be cool or artistic or smart or female or sad.
It’s not for everyone. But it was for me. And it’s for Montana. And this book is for everyone who has walked the sidewalks of NYC crying and loving that not a single person looks at you funny or asks what’s wrong. This book is for those of us that like to be alone in a huge crowd of people. New Yorkers.
A little advice on New York City, from the pages of Making Pretty:
- The best people watching can be done in Washington Square Park. This is also the best place to rate best street performances.
- A prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich is an important accessory and can make you less angry with your father/sister/stepmother/best friend. Easy to find at cafes and restaurants all over the city. If youâ€™re near Union Sqaure, University news has little mini baguette sandwiches. In Brooklyn you canâ€™t miss Frankieâ€™s 457 for the best paninis.
- Get an eyebrow piercing in Williamsburg. Get a tattoo in Williamsburg. Dye your hair pink in Williamsburg. Go to Williamsburg and wonder at the hipness.
- Sit on a stoop and talk about the things that hurt. Sit on a park bench and fall in love.
- Hold hands on a long walk. It doesnâ€™t matter where you go. Itâ€™s New York. Getting lost is the point.
- Eat all the cheese. Stinkyâ€™s in Brooklyn. Murrayâ€™s Cheese Bar in the West Village. Most wine bars. Beecherâ€™s near Union Square.
- The best bars and cafes are the ones where everythingâ€™s mismatched and a little tattered.
- Itâ€™s hot in the summer. Be comfortable. Some people wear sundresses. Some people wear jean cut off shorts with tampon-looking strings hanging off them. The cool kids wear hats and scarves even though itâ€™s boiling. Itâ€™s okay not to be a cool kid.
- Notice what everyone around you is readingâ€”on the subway, in the park, at the cafÃ©. You may find the love of your life that way. Youâ€™ll at least be surprised by the unexpected choices and the ways books donâ€™t always match up with people the way we think theyâ€™re supposed to.
- Always show up with coffee. Hot coffee in the summer is a lifestyle choice that Montana and I both approve of heartily.
- If you stop in the middle of the sidewalk other pedestrians will sigh and give you mean looks but forget all about it five seconds later.
- You can cry on the streets and no one will notice or care. You can fight or kiss or change your life right there, in a crowd of people, and theyâ€™re rush right by you. If you are a certain kind of person, that could feel like loneliness. If you are meant to be a New Yorker, that feels a lot like joy.
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Thanks for stopping in, C! Best wishes on the new book!