What inspired the collection – Through a Dusty Window?
When I was fourteen years old, my family traveled from California to the East Coast the summer before my freshman year in high school. I remember lots about that whirlwind visit, but one memory stands out clearly: I stood beneath one of the towers of the World Trade Center while my brother lay on his back taking a photograph straight up one of the tower corners. I said to my mother, “I’m going to live in New York someday.” She looked horrified. As a society, we don’t take much of what fourteen year olds say to heart. My mother didn't necessarily respond encouragingly – possibly because the New York City that I was enamored with was pre-Giuliani New York. The subways were riddled with graffiti, Times Square was hardly a family attraction, and you walked with your purse strapped firmly around you at all times. But my words were gospel to me, and I never forgot them.
When I was twenty-three, between jobs and relationships, I threw everything in my car and drove across the country. I landed in a New York that was particularly accommodating. The economy was thriving, jobs were plentiful, and the city was much safer than it had been previously. I only lived there for four years, but I feel like I grew up in New York in many ways.
The City had always held some kind of romantic appeal for me, and getting to finally call it home and walk the streets in pursuit of my own agenda was heady. Everything about the City was novel to a girl who grew up in Fresno, California. It was a universe away from my previous life. But the thing that struck me constantly as I explored was the constant and pervasive sense of history. The City is haunted in so many ways – the buildings themselves having stood as stoic witnesses to hundreds of years of cultural shifting and repositioning.
I wanted to capture that. I wanted to write about the fascination I felt when I peered guiltily into windows at street level, trying to see how people lived. I wanted to write about the curiosity that gripped me when I moved into a new apartment to find a curious gothic bureau just inside the door. I was informed that it had been remodeled accidentally into the apartment and could no longer fit through the narrow doorway. I wanted to explore the people who’d lived in that space before me, those that might come after.
Through a Dusty Window is my attempt to illustrate the many layers of life that exist in a city like New York. We can live there, arrogant in our pursuit of our own present-day ambitions. But there will always be echoes around us if we listen – echoes that can remind us of some of the lessons learned by those whose feet walked there before us.
The collection features ten short stories, one set in each decade between 1910 and 2001. The stories share one thing in common – the setting in an Upper West Side brownstone. Through the characters portrayed, we see the movement of culture and experience some of the events that shaped New York and the world. The collection is intended to allow readers to enjoy a journey through New York’s history as voyeurs.
Through a Dusty Window: New York City Stories 1910-2001 is available on Amazon: http://amzn.to/ZkSoHH
Delancey Stewart can be found at her blog:
Thank you very much for stopping by Delancey and I wish you well with this wonderful book :)
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