Sari Botton chats about New York City anthology ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’

It can be hard to live in New York, but it’s even harder not to love it.

It can be hard to live in New York, but it’s even harder not to love it.

A new anthology, “Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakable Love for New York,” attests to that dichotomy, with essays from 25 writers, including Susan Orlean, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Rosanne Cash, about life in a city that’s often infuriating but never forgettable.

While most of the book’s contributors are still living in New York, some, including the book’s editor, Sari Botton, have left. Botton, who also edited the anthology’s 2013 companion, “Goodbye to All That” (a collection of essays about leaving New York), moved from the city in 2005, “cranky and fed up” after getting kicked out of her East Village loft.

But, despite everything, her love of New York remains, as it does for the other authors in the book.

“When you move to New York, you are changed for life,” Botton said. “Even if you leave, there’s a good chance you’ll come back. And even if you don’t, you’ll carry it with you.”

amNewYork spoke with Botton from her apartment in Kingston, New York.


This book is a love letter to New York, but it’s not all positive.

I don’t think there’s any way to have a real relationship with New York without having it be a love-hate relationship. It’s such a challenging city. It really does not make it easy for you to stay. It’s expensive and you pay so much for so little in terms of space. Sometimes I’m walking around and I see garbage everywhere and it stinks and I’m like, “This place is a dump!” But there’s no place like it.


The essays are inspired by E.B. White’s iconic essay, “This Is New York.” Do you think that essay still speaks to the New York experience?

It’s dated in some of its references. I mean, he’s lamenting the subway going up to 10 cents per ride. He wrote it in 1948 and the civil rights movement hadn’t even begun yet. But he also really captures New York. He talks about the different kind of New Yorkers that you can be: Those that are from here, those that come from somewhere else, and the commuters. That still stands true.


How does this anthology expand on White’s essay?

There’s such a variety of experiences, and the book includes stories from all three types of New Yorkers White talks about. They all take place in different times and places. My husband, Brian Macaluso, wrote one that takes place in the Tenth Street Bath. Elizabeth Gilbert’s piece takes place in Coyote Ugly, a bar in the East Village. Jason Diamond’s takes place in a variety of restaurants and bars. White’s essay is a springboard for these stories, which are all much more varied in terms of the specific details and experiences.



IF YOU GO: Wednesday, Sari Botton with Alexander Chee, Anna Holmes, Phillip Lopate, and Adelle Waldmanat Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton Street, Brooklyn. 7:30 p.m. Free.

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