Edited by Teresa Carpenter, “New York Diaries” spans from 1609 to 2009 and includes notables such as Mark Twain, Allen Ginsberg, Judith Malina, Edgar Allan Poe, Teddy Roosevelt, and many, many others.
Among my favorites were the heartbreakingly romantic Roosevelt, who lost his beloved mother and wife on the same Valentine’s Day in 1884, when he wrote, “The light has gone out of my life.”
Another favorite, who I had never heard of before was French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, who in the first of her many wonderful entries gives a bit of eerie foreshadowing when she takes the boat to the Statue of Liberty, only so she could see Battery Park the way she saw in movies. “In the distance, its towers seem fragile,” she wrote in 1947. A few lines later: “When the boat draws closer, their foundations seem firmer, but the fall line remains indelibly traced. What a field day a bomber would have!”
I loved the effervescent way de Beauvoir writes about her two months in the city, and have definitely added her to my Must Read list, especially her journal, published in 1954 as “America Day By Day.” No, no, this former high-school French student shall call it it by its proper name: “Simone de Beauvoir: L’Amerique en jour le jour.”
It just rolls off the tongue so much better, non?
I also enjoyed the hell out of Andy Warhol’s entries, especially since I’ve always loved him, his art and been fascinated by his life here in the city. In fact, the second I closed “New York Diaries,” I started reading “The Andy Warhol Diaries” because I loved his narrative in the former so much.
You can be sure to expect a Bookworm on that sooner than later.
There was so much to enjoy about “New York Diaries,” but one of the main things was just seeing how differently people experienced the city over the course of the 400 years the book spans. There are so many other entries I could give excerpts of that touched me or inspired me to keep a better journal, but you should experience the book for yourself.
So I’ll leave you with the end of writer George Weld’s entry from Sept. 15, 2001: “People keep asking me if I want to get out of the city now. I don’t want to get out at all: I feel I’ve been nailed to this city forever, tattooed as its own.”
It sure does something to you, this city.
Read another favorite entry that I wrote about on Nikki & New York here.