The following is an excerpt from the Editor’s Note in Central Park: An Anthology. Edited by Andrew Blauner, this fantastic New York book draws together stories by writers with one thing in common—their passion for Central Park. As the book’s press release states:
Here, in Central Park, nineteen literary greats share their encounters with–and passions for–the world’s most famous park. The 843 acres of Central Park have long served as an antidote to urban chaos, providing inspiration for some 38 million visitors a year–among them, naturally, a diverse array of writers.
In his Editor’s Note, Blauner discusses his own history with the park, and why so many others also have their own unique relationships to one of the most famous parks in the world.
Editor’s Note (from Central Park: An Anthology)
by Andrew Blauner
IMAGINE there’s no Central Park…
Henry James called it “New York at its best.” James Salter once wrote that “Central Park was once my Eden.” And in Walker Percy’s novel The Moviegoer, Binx Bolling frequents movies because they provide him with the “treasurable moments” so often too absent from his real life. So, too, do we seek and find such moments in Central Park, moments represented so beautifully through the years in the films of Woody Allen.
Born and raised in Manhattan, I have had many of the most memorable and meaningful experiences of my life in Central Park. It was there that I first took our beloved family dog, Drummer, a collie whom kids in the seventies thought was Lassie; it was there that I had some of my highest highs and my lowest lows; it was there that I had my first real date; and it was there, in a kind of painful trance, I found myself walking on the afternoon of September 11, 2001. The park is the place where I spent so many afternoons when I was a kid, with Collegiate School’s teams and Cavaliers Athletic Club (a Little League of a kind, though more akin to the group in Saligner’s story “The Laughing Man”).
Ask people what they love most about New York and the majority will name the same thing. Central Park. Ask what people love most about Central Park, and you will almost never get two alike answers. Such is the vastness, the diversity, the wonder of this place that plays so many different roles to so many different kinds of people.
Central Park is like baseball (and, to some extent, the book publishing business) in the sense that it continues to change but remains, in essence, very much the same. There are many paradoxes of the park; it divides, as it does physically (separating East Side from West Side), but also unites us, just as it somehow simultaneously defies the city.
It’s where so many New Yorkers connect with our true nature, where we are most ourselves, not a t work, not in cramped apartments, and not out on the streets with our game faces on. We often feel more at home in the Park than in our erstwhile homes. We go to be alone and to be with others, seeking solitude and community. It’s where we go to pray and to play, to meditate and celebrate.
My first two anthologies were portraits of people—coaches and brothers—and yet this book, about a place, a public place, feels even more personal, private, intimate, so tied in, so often, to what matters most.
Central Park: An Anthology
Edited by Andrew Blauner
Paperback, 240 pages
Bloomsbury, USA, $16.00
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Central Park Conservancy.