Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey recently edited State by State: a Panoramic Portrait of America, in which some pretty awesome writers each take a state (always their home state?) and write an essay on it. I’m excited to read the whole thing (mostly) in order, but when it came the other day I jumped to my home state and my current state right away, and both were great.
Rick Moody begins writing about Connecticut by talking about the Merritt Parkway, driving north from the state line through Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan. He barely departs Fairfield County in the essay, which was not a problem for me as that is my Connecticut. He even managed to include a painting by Maureen Gallace among the photos in the book. I just so happened to see her work once at the Art Institute several years ago, walked over to a painting and said: I’ve been there. Looking at the label, I realized I really had. (Unfortunately, I can only find a teeny tiny picture, but here it is.)
He perfectly describes my hometown, one of the cities amid great affluence.
[Exit 38] is technically in Norwalk, which in the early seventies was the lower middle-class town in Fairfield County. My father’s parents lived there during the period I’m describing (1968-1975). Among the other prejudices that were harbored in my family was the prejudice that lower middle-class towns were homely and cheap. And so we use to drive through Norwalk at Christmastime to look at its garish Christmas displays. We laughed derisively. That my grandparents felt comfortable in Norwalk, however, hints at the class anxieties roiling beneath the surface of my family, as in the state generally.
Moody grew up, despite a broken home and fall from grace from Greenwich to Darien/New
Continue reading State by State, installment the first