WANT is not the same as choosing correctly, and Lynn Steger Strong show us a rough reality of choosing incorrectly in a city that is set on destroying us – Inkish Kingdoms
You will fall in love with any city if that is your first time in that country. The first time I left the country, I visited Madrid, Spain, and, if I could, I will move my whole life there to experience that illusion of seeing the great city of Madrid every day and walk its dark streets at 7 am.
I have had a few other first time that have changed my life. For example, the first time I visit the United States. Although I fly to New York for business reasons, the experience was so new and wild that I could not stop myself from shaking. My luggage was on another plane, so I had to wait for 3 hours in the luggage pick area alone while figuring out how to buy a SIM card for my Motorola. Once I managed to get my phone working, I requested an Uber and drove to Times Square, and I stayed in the Hampton Inn Manhattan Hotel. I was twenty-six years old and grateful that I didn’t have to pay for my stay in this hotel in the heart of the island. After this time, I swore to try everything to go back to this incredible city as soon as possible; I was already planning on buying my plane ticket when the COVID19 pandemic started to collapse the system. However, I still hold this place dear to me and count the days to go back. Just as in Madrid, I have planned a life in New York City. I pictured my partner and myself walking the long streets towards work and living in an apartment in the heart of the city until I started looking for apartments and realized the exorbitant amount they charge for a shoebox place with one room and one bathroom.
My experience with this city was the one of a tourist, and, although I didn’t have a budget, I spend with caution because everything was a bit too expensive for what I was used to paying. For example, going out of the meal is an experience on its own since you have unlimited options. However, what I found shocking was that every experience comes with a bill, and I was able to understand Elizabeth, the protagonist of Want by Lynn Steger Strong, when she narrates her silent nightmare of a third drink turning into an unaffordable indulgence.
Want must narrate the reality of so many people that wish to live in a city meant for the wealthy. The novel focuses on Elizabeth’s marriage and how the game of wanting and choosing has profound consequences in their lives. The couple decided years ago to leave their jobs and follow their dreams; instead of using the education that put them in deep debt. Want reflects the reality of millions of students: thousands of dollars in student loans, living in a city that is almost impossible to live in, how following dreams will have a long-term impact in our lives (mostly a negative impact due to the current economy that makes it difficult to leave out of dreams), and how wanting is so different from making the right decisions. bad
What matters the most in life is the path we walked on and not the destination. Lynn’s work highlights the road and not the journey’s end since Elizabeth takes the reader through the city of New York. Long runs through Brooklyn; Elizabeth’s long history of family problems; the difficulty of maintaining friendships when your mental health is a constant struggle; and how motherhood and responsibilities seem to collide against New York’s reality. Lynn’s narrative focuses on the details of life, routine, and the loop of a pointless job, the lingering wants of a perfect life and the emotional toll that economic problems and mental health can take on a marriage. Her narrative felt real and poetic without being pompous. Editorially speaking, the novel has the perfect length and speed of events. Lynn employs a structure of past and present narrative, which allows the reader to know the main character at an intimate level.
Elizabeth’s description of her marriage shines with a dark light when she describes how her sexual life behaves as a responsibility and another task to finish the day. The protagonist hunts for catharsis in her every morning run since exercise became the only healthy outlet of her pain even when she cannot afford to change her globes to avoid frostbite.
Throughout the novel and Lynn’s narration, I saw another face of what a life in New York could be for me and others. Yes, New York is a marvelous city! The bright lights, the questionable subway service, the high rent, and the strains of making ends meet while still mentioning how art lacks the power to make a living in a cultural and artistic city like the Big Apple. Lynn crafts her story around how a city makes it impossible to own anything, around the main character who denounces through her existence how arts as a job does not pay bills, and around how teaching and education lack importance in a world that puts its priorities in the wrong places.
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