BEING OSKAR MATZERATH: Reflections on ‘The Tin Drum’

Die_Blechtrommel_earliest_edition_germanStefany Anne Golberg at The Smart Set:

When Günter Grass died earlier this year, it brought back memories of 1991, my first year in New York City. I sometimes think of this period in New York as its last dangerous days, when the city still had that anxious, patched-together sensibility, which is just another way of saying that once I lived in a New York City different than the New York City of today, a New York City that was romantic because I was young then. I lived that first year alone, in a single room on the upper floors of the 92nd Street Y. The 92nd Street Y was better known as a point of call for Manhattan sophisticates, who likely had little idea that, as they listened to the wisdom of celebrities in the great lecture hall, dozens of men and women were residing, like me, in tiny rented rooms on the floors above them.

I hardly saw another person during my time at the Y. When I first arrived in the fall of 1991, I would leave my room at what I thought would be sociable hours, walking through the linoleum halls to the communal kitchen or the communal bathroom, looking for company. Most other tenants did not live at the 92nd Street Y as I did; they were in New York to sightsee, staying a few weeks or so and spending most of their time on the town. Not long after I moved into the 92nd Street Y, I started eating in my room, leaving only at odd hours, to make the loneliness seem less unusual.

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