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Just read the Didion essay instead
on November 28, 2013
This is a surprisingly dull collection. As mentioned elsewhere, there is a sameness to the essays, a disappointing homogeneity in the selection of writers (all of them women of about the same age, who tried to be writers, and sort of made it and sort of didn't, who moved, many of them, upstate). Rarely does a writer here manage to capture the genuine essence, the harshest truth, of what it means -- what it FEELS like -- to struggle and compete in New York against a constant, oncoming tide, and then fail at it. It can be a bulldozing experience, mixed with the most heightened elation when it's working. Nothing feels like succeeding in New York, nothing feels as crushing as the illusion when it drops away. But no one captured that truth in this book. (EDIT: Except, I should mention, Rebecca Wolff -- whose anger at the betrayal of the city's promises, and its shoddy evolution, feels palpable. And she was born there!) It takes a certain hubris to use "Goodbye To All That" as a title and then not even include Joan Didion's brilliant essay, which makes the others here read like something out of Elle or Marie Claire. Far too soft, too much about the financial cost of New York (there are so many other reasons why a life there can be defeated, and all of them more interesting than money). Kind of bummed that this wasn't better.