Letters of Note: New York City

In 1934, Anaïs Nin wrote to Henry Miller, who had been her lover, "I feel a kind of exhilaration and the tempo is like that of my blood." Nin wasn't writing of romantic stirrings; she was expressing her feelings about New York, which she was visiting at the time. Nin's sentiment is shared by many of the 30 contributors to the invigorating and occasionally heartbreaking Letters of Note: New York City, yet another title in Shaun Usher's proudly atavistic Letters of Note series.

For this collection, Usher has selected correspondence as old as George Washington's 1785 salute to the mayor of New York ("I pray that Heaven may bestow its choicest blessings on your City") and as young as Bianca Jagger's 2015 censure of the Financial Times for misreporting on her decades-prior antics at Studio 54 ("As an environmentalist and an animal rights defender, I find the insinuation that I would ride a horse into a nightclub offensive"). True to New York's democratic spirit, Usher also presents the words of everyday citizens; he includes exercised letters to the editor and a letter from a 9/11 widow to her dead husband.

A nonfan of New York was the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, who had the final indignity of dying in the city that he put pen to paper to call "the very loud, mad middle of the last mad Empire on earth" in 1950. Letters of Note is a pocket-size, big-impact tribute to a city about which words are seldom minced. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Powered by: Xtenit