new york, blue sky

blue sky.   the morning of september 11, 2001 i met my editor tracy devine and bantam deputy publisher nita taublib for breakfast at charlotte, just across the street from the random house offices.  it was one of our many wonderful meetings, talking about books and life--a colleague of ours had just gotten married, and we were catching up on that when we heard a plane had hit one of the world trade towers.

a small plane i thought, it had to be, but how terrible no matter the size, how shocking.  but it wasn't a small plane, and then the second jet hit, and nita and tracy and i hugged goodbye and hurried away into our lives to plan and make sense or no-sense and be in new york city--all three of us lived there--that had already changed forever, only we just didn't know it yet.

impressions: the blue sky everyone still talks about; plume of smoke visible from midtown, constant sirens, walking downtown and seeing people on cell phones--i didn't have one yet.  an hour later, after the towers fell, seeing people in business suits covered with ash.  the next nights: below 14th street, a dust cloud that glowed red after dark, as thick as the foggiest london night. the posters hung by families, their missing loved ones, on the wall by famous ray's pizza across from st. vincent's hospital.  going to the cathedral of st. john the divine, didn't matter what religion you were or were not, just a place to gather and pray and mourn.

the city smelled of smoke and ghosts.  people were kind to each other but also lost it on a frequent basis.  i remember those early days, tuning into local tv news, pre-theme music.  do you know what i mean?  the moment when a tragedy acquires a combination of familiarity and production values, and the tv producers give it solemn theme music and a name.  it takes away the raw.  i hated when that happened a day or two after 9/11.

heading to the west side highway many nights--closed to traffic, it was kept open for search and rescue workers.  people lined the streets, watching pickup trucks, fire trucks, many with out of state plates, drive south toward the world trade center.  i was in the midst of leaving a worse than bad marriage, but the tragedy bound us together for a few more months, and those first nights after the towers collapsed we'd go to the west side highway, watch those rescue trucks in the surreal riverside light.  i couldn't bear for anything else to collapse.

during the early days after the attack, friends helped at the site.  the poet-nun sister leslie went to st. paul's with other sisters from her community, to offer spiritual comfort to the rescue workers.  poet-naturalist e.j. mcadams, then an urban park ranger, spent days in and around the rubble, going into apartments to rescue animals abandoned in the evacuation.   interesting that my two closest poet friends had reason to be there--the city needed poets more than ever.

the week after the towers fell i stood on park avenue south and watched a woman in a yellow dress commit suicide, jumping from a ledge and landing at my feet.  the grief in the city was unimaginable.  had she lost someone in the towers?  or was the city's collective sorrow just too much to bear?

in december my friend, poet, writer, and radio personality colin mcenroe came to the city from hartford and he is a sensitive soul as we all know so we went downtown but mostly we went to the cathedral to watch paul winter prepare for his solstice concert and a few days later there was a fire in the cathedral and everything seemed touched by sorrow, mystical beauty, blue stained glass, and the unpredictability of life.

ten years have passed.  the anniversary unbearable at first, but time dulls, if not heals, the shock and pain.  for years the cats and i have looked out my south-facing chelsea windows to see the towers of light rising up from where the twin towers once stood.  they appear beautiful, mystical, but i love nature, and i couldn't and can't deny that they're magnets to birds that fly by night, fall migrants heading south for the winter--the birds get trapped in the light columns, and at dawn fall to the ground.  after a while i couldn't stand seeing those light towers--they reminded me of death, not hope.  so i stopped looking out my window the last years of this decade of september 11's.

i'm not in ny this year.  i want to be far away, and i am.  the sky is blue, the way it was that day.  there are no speeches or memorials or flags.  there are no columns of light.  but there is peace and prayer and memory, and there are poems, and there is love.  nita and tracy, we were together that morning.  i'm holding your hands, wherever you are.

 

Lunch and a Novel

Are you free for lunch?

 

I've donated "Lunch with the Author," a signed copy of The Silver Boat, and the chance to have a character named for you in my next novel, to the most wonderful event: Bid to Save the Earth: Christie's Green and Runway to Green Auction. Just click on the link to place your bid...

The auction benefits four environmental charities, including  NRDC--Natural Resources Defense Council--the amazing organization  that does so much to protect our planet...  I'm a member of NRDC and feel so proud of the work they do.

About that lunch.  I'd love to meet you at one of my favorite restaurants: the Red Cat in New York City,

 

 

 

 

or, if you'd prefer to meet in LA, Shutters on the Beach (my all time favorite beachside hotel and restaurant)

 

 

 

 

 

 

or Ivy at the Shore (shown at the top, the terrace cascading with bougainvillea.)  Bring a friend if you'd like; we can talk about books, writing, life, inspiration, wildlife, the sea, the earth, ways we can help...

Please check out the details, as well as the auction itself and other incredible items (go flying with Harrison Ford, meet Lady Gaga in Miami, sit courtside at a Knicks game with Jay-Z, attend opening night at the Metropolitan Opera in a box for eight, or take a tennis lesson with John McEnroe, among many other tempting .)

And I really hope we can have lunch!

Silver Boat Audio

I am so happy that Blair Brown will be reading THE SILVER BOAT for audio. Blair has read many of my books-on-tape (I mean CD) and I love the warmth and wisdom in her voice.  We live near each other, so I get to experience her wonderfulness first-hand.  Aside from her incredible film work, and her iconic TV show, THE DAYS AND NIGHTS OF MOLLY DODD, she is a Tony Award-winning actor.  Whenever she appears on or off-Broadway, I attend the play and am always amazed by her deep and true performances.

A few years back Blair starred with Jill Clayburgh in  The Clean House, by Sarah Ruhl.  The set was magical, an orchard, the interior of a house, dream-like.  Blair was transcendent as ever, and it is moving to remember seeing her perform with Ms. Clayburgh.  

Both New Yorkers, we first met in Pasadena, California, where she was filming FOLLOW THE STARS HOME.  I was so excited by that; I never imagined our connection would continue through so many audio books.

THE SILVER BOAT audio will be released the same day as the novel, April 5, 2011.

Try to remember the kind of September

September is the most beautiful, still so full of summer, warm sands, salt water holding onto August heat.  The humidity drops, the sky is clear.  Bright blue, high clouds or no clouds.  Achingly gorgeous sunsets, topaz, violet, and maroon. Sometimes hurricanes come in September.  We'd ride them out at the beach, leaning into the wind.  Waves would rise to cliff-height and crash down, seething white over the sand, across the boardwalk, into the boat basin.  And then the weather would clear, and we'd clean up the branches and leaves and broken windows.  My house was built in 1938, survived the famous hurricane that devastated our area, and all storms since.

Early September brought conflict, i.e. school.  It required a complete alteration of mind and mood, a radical revision of self, to go from the beach's freedom to school's schedules.  We learned a lot in both places.  But to this day I know I was one person at the beach and another once school began.

Yesterday a friend and I walked through the city.  We headed downtown from 23rd St.  The day was hot.  Tenth Avenue reflected the heat.  We were on our way to a meeting.  Business, like school, starts up after Labor Day.  I wore loafers and real pants, not jeans.  My teeshirt wasn't torn or gigantic or from Surfrider.  It looked vaguely legit.  I sat around a big table with bright, creative people who talked about exciting things.   I had a coffee.  My friend brought amazing cookies.  We all partook as we discussed.   I particularly enjoyed the carrot cake cookie.  It felt good to be part of a whole--the way I always wanted school to feel.  My desk, the cats notwithstanding, can feel lonely.

Have I mentioned I was a September baby?  I, and other September children with whom I've spoken, always feel renewed this time of year.  One dearest friend and I have birthdays separated by just a few days and for many years have managed to celebrate them together.  She lives in LA and I live in New York but that never seems to matter.

On September will go.  Soon I'll be heading east on the way to my niece's wedding.  By dusk I'll be swimming in the Sound.  I'll have a massively festive reunion with whomever we're lucky enough to see.  The cottage is inhabited by ghosts, no joke, and we'll be glad for their company.  One early morning I hope to walk the beach, through the marsh, up the hidden path.

The air will be warm but not as warm.  I'll smell the leaves changing.  The air will be spicy with rose hips and young grapes.  The bay will flash silver with bait.  I'll swim as often as there's time.  My thoughts are already deeply with my niece, for whose wedding we'll be gathering.  It's the main thing.  Sometimes, with such a big, important event on the horizon, this one in particular because it's so dear, so incredibly tender, it's hard to imagine bothering with all the minutia of the days leading up.

But life being life, there's a lot to do before getting to that moment.  It's a moving meditation, the way of September.  Ineffable beauty.  Deep dreams and memories.  Things to do.  Including swimming.  Attempting to fathom the unfathomable.  Attending a wedding.  Celebrating Molly and Alex.  And to quote my sister Maureen who was quoting someone else, "love, love, love."

Try to remember. Thank you, Jerry Orbach.

Maura Fogarty

Maura was such a dear friend.  She was an amazing singer-songwriter, and I was always touched and honored when she would come to my apartment and play music with me.  We shared being Irish Catholic, living in New York, having sisters, seeing the dark behind the light.  I wrote a song, You’re the Sea, and Maura sang on the recording.

One summer morning Maura and I went to the Irish Hunger Memorial in lower Manhattan.  There was a slight drizzle, and the fog rolling up the Hudson obscured the tallest buildings, enhancing the feeling we’d stepped out of time, out of New York.  We walked through the ruins of a stone cottage, up the winding path through a field to the hilltop.

“Feels like Ireland,” she said.

“Because of the weather?” I asked.

She nodded.  “And because every stone, every plant on the memorial comes from the different counties, all thirty two of them.”

She carried a certain knowledge, a bone-deep connection with that memorial.  It symbolized suffering, and striving, and Maura’s love of Ireland.  Maura had a heart unlike anyone I’ve ever known.  She felt other people’s pain right through her skin, and it came out in her songs.  She found a great songwriting partner, John Bertsche, and to hear her describe their sessions, there was something mystical at work.

Maura’s music broke your heart.  She sang with such deep emotion—every song.  And it was real, as if she was truly reliving the experience about which she sang.  She loved fiercely, starting with her family.  She spoke of her mother so often, with great devotion.  I remember when she played “Our Lady of Fatima” for me, telling me she’d written it for her mother.

She loved her sisters, and her cousins, her dearest friends, her writing partner.  All of that love poured into her music, yet there was often a sense of loss, or melancholy, an unspoken understanding that nothing, not even the strongest love could last forever.  She grasped the truth of impermanence.  Some songwriters compose around it, but Maura faced it head-on.  Perhaps it was her father’s death that taught her, or perhaps it was just that Maura was an old soul.

A mutual friend says Maura had the voice of an angel.  She did, but not your every-day-pious white-winged Seraphim.  Her voice broke with emotion.  She was an angel of the Bronx.  I think of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris’s Grievous Angel.  For Maura and her work with John, it was more like Heartstruck Angel, Devastated Angel, take your pick.  Her voice was like no other, and her inspiration was earthbound.   She and John wove together songs of the here and now: love, loss, betrayal, and—with into the sun—hope.

We lost her too soon.

Strangers on a Train

We don't see each other enough.  Sometimes once a year, often less.  But that we know each other at all is a gift, a twist of fate. Our friendship began on a train from New York in 2002.  She, her husband and daughter, and I, occupied the last seats in the car, two-and-two, separated by the aisle.  David and their daughter sat together; Paula sat next to me.  I noticed she was wearing a Bruce Springsteen tee-shirt. The night before I had gone to one of the Rising Tour shows at Madison Square Garden.  I commented on her shirt, and Paula said they'd been at the same show.  A man two rows ahead of us was speaking loudly on a cell phone, letting us know all the details of his day, week, and life, and Paula and I exchanged smiles.  I commented on her tee-shirt.  We rode north along the coastline, talking about the concert, Bruce's music, and other things: her family, my family, how I'd be getting off in Connecticut and they'd be riding all the way to Boston.  I told her I was a writer and she told me she'd been a lawyer but had given it up for a love of books.  She worked in a Boston-area Borders book store.

We exchanged numbers, addresses.  Paula Breger, Luanne Rice, take care, nice to meet you, stay in touch!  It could have ended there--it most often does, right?  You meet an interesting person on a train or plane, pass a few pleasant hours, and never see each other again.

It wasn't that way with Paula.  We wrote and called.  We had family tragedy in common.  We'd lost our parents too soon.  We'd seen them through long illnesses, and it was healing to talk to someone who knew, who'd felt some of the same things.  When i went to Newburyport on book tour, she met me at Jabberwocky Bookshop.  The next day she and her daughter took me to the beach on Plum Island, a six-mile long barrier beach and Parker River Wildlife Refuge, to swim and walk along the hard sand looking for sand dollars.

One year we met at the Newark (NJ) Museum for an exhibit, Springsteen: Troubadour of the Highway.  Photographs by Annie Liebovitz, Frank Stefanko, and others illustrated the cars and road motif used in some of Bruce's songs.  While we were there, "The Ghost of Tom Joad" played in the background.  We both liked the picture of Bruce leaning on his Corvette (1978; Frank Stefanko, shown above.) The exhibit was haunting; I loved seeing visual proof of an artist's inspiration.  But mainly it was a focus for Paula and I to meet.

Other meetings: Philadelphia to attend a concert.  I rode the Acela beside the late Danny Federici.  Paula and I happened to be staying in the same hotel as Bruce and the band, and saw Little Steven on the treadmill while we swam in the pool.  Sitting in the lobby, after the show, we heard someone call, "Tim!"  Then, in case we'd missed seeing Tim pass by, the voice called more loudly to make sure we knew, "Tim, Tim Robbins!"  The next day Paula and I walked around the old streets, climbed the great stairs to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to tour the collection.  But that trip will be forever known to us as the "Tim, Tim Robbins" weekend.

For a long time we seemed to believe we needed an event to shape our time together.  It started out as a shared love of Bruce, his music and lyrics, the wild and mysterious energy that explodes at his shows.  We live far enough apart so it's not easy to just get together.  But along the way, something has shifted.  We don't seem to need a reason anymore.  It wasn't so hard for her to email me this time, say she and her family were heading to the Jersey Shore, could she and I spend an afternoon together.  Yes, I said, of course, in spite of my hermit tendencies.  She has hermit tendencies too.  Go figure...

She'll be here soon.  I'm thinking about friends and what they mean to me.  How each friendship has a different context: how we met, where we met, how long we've known each other.  Sometimes friendships are in rhythm, other times they can be, as my college roommate put it once, "out of synch."  But if we sit tight, let time come around again, what we loved is still there.   Mim, my grandmother sang, "Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold."

And to think we were once strangers on a train.

Nightbirds in Central Park

Nightbirds in Central Park by Luanne Rice

When I was young and under the complete command of my heart, I moved to New York.  I was searching for art and artists and writers and a place that could accommodate my life’s intensity and call it “creativity.”

My friend Brendan Gill, drama critic at The New Yorker, gave me several invaluable instructions.  One was, “Writers always think they have to drink a lot and be miserable, but don’t,” and another was, “Go to Central Park.”  He told me that as Connecticut natives we required a lot of nature to balance urban thrills, and over the years I have discovered that he was completely right.

Although I love Poets’ Walk, the Bandshell, Cleopatra’s Needle, and the allées of crabapple trees in Conservatory Garden, my favorite places in Central Park are the most wild—the Ramble and the North Woods.  The park is situated along the Atlantic Flyway, a migration corridor traveled by birds that fly at night, navigating by the stars, landing at sunrise in the greenest spots they see.  Central Park is a great oasis for birds.

Last weekend was the Bio-Blitz, a twenty-four biological survey of the park.  Organized by the Explorer’s Club, it attracted many nature-lovers to participate.  In all, they counted 838 species.  I had planned to join the Friday night moth-counting contingent, but during peak hours I found myself engaged in a different exploration: walking across the Brooklyn Bridge with two friends from Hartford, one of them thirteen, on a search for the Brooklyn roots of the rapper Jay-Z.

But I visit the park frequently and have remembrances of observations past…  During the Christmas Bird Count on December 19th, 2004, the word went out that a Boreal Owl, rare for these parts, had been spotted in a tall pine behind Tavern on the Green.  I headed over, and stood with Cal Vornberger as he photographed the shy, beautiful bird.  Another favorite time was the night I went owling.  In March, 2002, my friend E.J. McAdams, then an Urban Park Ranger, invited me to join an expedition to track screech owls.  We met at the Boathouse, and our party consisted of several avid birders, including Charles, Lee, and Noreen, famous to people who know the story of Pale Male, the red-tailed hawk who for ten years has courted, hunted, nested, and raised seventeen chicks atop the penthouse next to Woody Allen’s.

At night the city is enchanted.  It just is.  You stand at the edge of the park and look around at all the buildings twinkling with lights—the Plaza, the Dakota, the San Remo, the Beresford, the limestone palaces on Fifth Avenue—and New York City is a magical landscape of wit and glamour, and there’s an orchestra of taxi horns and boom boxes, and at any second someone wonderful will come along and ask you to dance.  Just outside the park, New York City is still a place of human dreams.

But walk inside the park’s perimeter, and suddenly you are solidly with nature—the place Brendan warned me that I must find.  After sunset, Central Park is the wilderness, vast and dark.  That March night was chilly.  E.J. told us that to find owls at night, we had to look for unexpected shapes in the bare trees.  We tried to walk silently, like trackers, scanning branches overhead with an unfocussed gaze.

We made our way around the Lake, and our first sighting was just south of Bow Bridge.  As promised, the screech owl looked “unexpected”: an out-of-place smudge in a graceful network of maple branches.  We stood still, watching for a long time, until she flew.  And then we followed her into the Ramble.

A screech owl’s call is the opposite of its name, mysterious and descending, like a backwards horse whinny.  We tracked that owl till we lost her, and then we looked and listened for others.  During that whole night, our group rarely spoke.  We each had our own reasons for being there, in the wilds of Central Park on a cold not-yet-spring night, and I know that I was lost in a combination of meditation, awe, and gratitude for my Connecticut-born connection with nature.

On Cedar Hill, in the east-seventies, there is a stand of red cedar trees where in recent years four Long-ear owls have roosted.  Like other owls, they sleep by day and hunt by night.  By staking out the trees at dusk, it is possible, with patience, to observe the “fly out.”  I witnessed it once; E.J. pointed out how each of the four owls left the trees in a completely idiosyncratic way.  One hopped to the end of a branch, then flapped toward the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Another zoomed straight up, like the Concorde.  One hulked like a gargoyle, seeming to indict everyone and everything on the ground, and then flew menacingly into the night.  The last waited a long time, as if deciding whether to actually go or not, and then looped west, toward Belvedere Castle.

It is a great thrill and honor to observe the fly-out; only one person I have ever heard of has ever seen the fly-in, and I was with her on the Night of the Screech Owls.  Noreen.  Tall and stately, she has a cascade of bright white hair and eyes that are steady and compassionate.  One New Year’s Eve, it is said, after watching the Cedar Hill fly-out, she decided to stick around the park till just before dawn and wait for the owls to come home.

That’s a much more difficult proposition, because they don’t return all at the same time, and they arrive from different directions, and the sun hasn’t yet risen over the East Side, and the owls fly in so fast you’re not quite sure you’ve seen them.  But according to park legend, Noreen did—that New Year’s Day, she saw the fly-in.

Although I walked beside her that March night, I didn’t ask her about the story.  Our screech owl-seeking group progressed north in silence, over the Seventy-Ninth Street Transverse and past Shakespeare Garden, into more relatively tame park regions as we made for the North Woods—the dense woodlands and steep bluffs in the northernmost reaches of the park.

But we never got that far.  We spotted an owl along Central Park West.  Just across the busy street, the exhibit “Baseball as America” was opening on at the American Museum of Natural History.  The great columned entrance was stunningly illuminated red, white and blue as limousines discharged various Yankees, Mets, and other baseball and museum lovers.

There, bathed in the museum’s patriotic glow, was a screech owl perched on a low branch. To get the best view, we had to actually exit the park and stand on the sidewalk at West 81st Street. People were clustered, watching for Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams and Joe Torres, who were rumored to be attending the opening. We had to edge through the throng, to get closer to the owl. Two crowds of people standing in the same spot, facing in opposite directions.

The owl was oblivious.  He was gray and white, eight inches tall, so close I could look into his ferocious yellow eyes.  In true New York fashion, he let everyone else go about their business while he went about his: killing a mouse.  Wings spread, he slashed downward, hit his prey as it ran, and ripped it apart—gobbling bloody entrails made redder by the gala museum lights.

Most of the bystanders missed seeing that murderous show.  They forgot to glance over the wall into the wilds of Central Park, fixed as they were on the American pastime, on the enchantment of Manhattan, on their own human dreams.

I have my own human dreams.  I have made many of them come true in New York City.  But part of me is still a Connecticut girl at heart, and Brendan’s words are never too far from my consciousness: “Go to Central Park.”  Oracle, sage: thank you for knowing me, for reminding me of who I am.  Nature is in my nature.

Besides, I still have to see the fly-in.

(Photograph by Cal Vornberger: Two fledgling Eastern screech owls, Central Park, North Woods.  www.calvorn.com)

Portrait of the Writer as a Young Chelsea Girl

Portrait of the Writer as a Young Chelsea Girl by Luanne Rice

When I first moved to New York City, I lived on Tenth Avenue just north of Fourteenth Street, over a speakeasy that used to be frequented by the Irish mob.  My mentor, a writer at The New Yorker, had helped me find a room in an SRO.  He’d told me that all writers had to live in New York, preferably in squalor, and since I had basically no money but many dreams, I was on board with that.  Chelsea was the Wild West then—gunshots were a common way to be awakened at two in the morning.  I got so I would dial “911” in my sleep.

My mentor suggested I live as stable a life as possible, writing all the time and not falling into the temptations of drink, parties, and a messy love life.  Soon I married, and moved to an actual apartment in the same neighborhood.  My then-husband was a young lawyer.  We had no money, but big dreams.  I published my first short stories and wrote my first novel in New York—Angels All Over Town.

Throughout this time, the Empire Diner was my café.  I went there for coffee every morning, and until it closed last spring, continued to do so over the last twenty-plus years.  Back then Paulina Porizkova and Elle Macpherson were roommates, and I would see them at the next table.  There were lots of clubs in the neighborhood, and half the diner would be filled with people just waking up, half with people on their way home.

But the part of Chelsea I’ve always loved best has been the seminary block.  West 20th St. between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.  Built on land owned by Clement Clark Moore (author of “A Visit From St. Nicholas,”) it seems very alive with ghosts.  I’ve always felt them there, and I wrote about them in Silver Bells.

Back when I first lived here, West 20th St. was home to two of my favorite writers—Ann Beattie and Laurie Colwin.  It was like a literary mecca for me—to walk down the street on the off-chance of seeing them.  Which I often did…

In spite of his admonition to not become distracted by the literary life, my mentor used to take me to lunch at the Algonquin, where we would sit one banquette away from Mr. Shawn, and to the theater, and opening night parties, and literary soirees.  Once I sat at a table with him, Norman Mailer, John Updike, William Styron, and George Plimpton.  Then I came home to write and try not to feel daunted.

I’ve been a writer my whole life, and I still live in Chelsea.  What a solitary time it was when I first lived here—my husband worked all the time, and I hardly ever saw him.  I just wrote.  My friends were artists, writers, and musicians.  Eventually I did fall prey to all I'd been warned against, and certain things fell apart, and others seemed to come together.   My husband and I divorced.  Hearts were broken and broken again.  I became a wild child, which was inconvenient because by then I was in my thirties.  Chelsea saw me through.

Galleries took over, and the streets became not so gritty.  New places opened.  I found an apartment with two views: a sliver of the Hudson River to the west, and the historic district of Chelsea to the east.  Directly across the street is an old warehouse that sports billboards advertising self-storage with messages such as the one I'm looking at right now: "Material Possessions Won't Make You Happy or Maybe They Will."  Most days I have lunch or at least coffee at the Half King, a café owned by Sebastian Junger and Scott Anderson.  There is a sidewalk terrace, back garden, and black leather couches under slanting ceilings.  On Monday nights there is a wonderful reading series.

After a more recent divorce than the first one, I went into Dan’s Chelsea Guitars and bought an acoustic guitar.  I began to take lessons from Mark Lonergan, a great guitarist who lives in the building next to the Hotel Chelsea.  He’s taught me a lot, but I don’t practice enough.  Even so, I write songs and have formed a band with two women from the neighborhood.  They’re both really good: Dianne plays bass, and Ali plays keyboards.  We’re all in the arts and do so much work from home, we call ourselves “House Arrest.”

Chelsea has been home for so long, it hurts to see the major changes occurring.  Fancy new buildings going up.  Where are all the young writers, musicians, artists, actors supposed to live if all the cheap apartments get torn down so “luxury high-rises” can go up in their place?

It confuses me, but I have faith in young writers.  I found my own inspiring patch of squalor here in New York City, and I trust that they will, too.  They’ll find their way to a Chelsea all their own.

Silver Bells

On a quaint, snowy Chelsea street, librarian Catherine Tierney and a widowed Christmas tree seller from Nova Scotia will rediscover the magic of the season where they least expect it: in a chance encounter that leads to a holiday surprise of love and hope powerful enough to last a lifetime.

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