From an earlier, fascinating piece via This Recording’s “In Which Nothing Will Cut New York But A Diamond” the writer talks about the author Dawn Powell and I consider this with great fascination and truth. A true Midwest fish in a big New York Sea.

People think New York changes, but it never does. It doesn’t matter whether the year is 1919 or 2009: the city has always been too expensive and too vicious. A letter Powell wrote to a college friend shortly after her arrival in New York touched on what would become the central themes of her novels. “Beauty,” she stated, “is after all the only thing in the world that matters—not mental or spiritual beauty or any of that lying rot, but splendid physical beauty. . Let us not mention money—it is so obvious that it is money that makes beauty possible, so that very likely money is the only thing that matters more than beauty.”

She was lucky: those of us raised in New York have no other half, no dream-island to fall back on when the real city disappoints. We are all New York, and it is the rest of the world that seems unreal. Failure here means failure in full; a life lived elsewhere would be less than a life.