Unforgettable Dates in New York's Fiction
By Daniel Lefferts for Bookish.com
Paris, shmaris. The masses may not call New York the most romantic city in the world, but it sure makes for one lively dating venue. Nowhere is this more evident than in New York-focused fiction, which is rife with memorable date scenes. From a heartwarming stolen kiss in Queens to a disastrous trip to the Bronx, we've rounded up some of the most memorable fictional dates set in New York.
1. A Visit from the Goon Squad (Your profile didn't mention you were crazy).
Like more than half of all couples today, Sasha and Alex—the duo that opens Egan's much-talked-about novel-in-stories—meet for the first time after an online courtship. As with many pairs that make the jump from digital to in-person dating, awkwardness and surprises abound. Their date, which takes place at a Manhattan bar, begins on a low note: Sasha rattles off "overhandled tales" about her eccentric ex-boss while Alex, "brooding behind dark bangs," distractedly eyes the TV screen behind her. But things pick up when Sasha, who happens to be a raging kleptomaniac, finds an abandoned wallet in the bathroom and steals it. Exhilarated by the theft, Sasha turns the night around and the two end up back at her apartment, where she hopes Alex doesn't notice her collection of other illicit acquisitions—"five sets of keys, fourteen pairs of sunglasses, a child's striped scarf, binoculars [and] a cheese grater" among them.
2. The House of Mirth (Flirtation, old-money style).
Dating, as we think of it today, is a relatively recent innovation. If you happened to live in turn-of-the-century New York, as the heroine of Edith Wharton's "The House of Mirth," Lily Bart, does, your options for romance were fairly limited. Still, Bart finds opportunities to exercise her heart. Early in the novel, at a friend's upstate New York compound, she takes a countryside stroll with Lawrence Selden, an intelligent but not-quite-aristocratic-enough bachelor. Their conversation—intimate, heated, confused—represents perhaps the only instance when Lily, eternally wrapped up in the superficial details of coquetry and marriage, opens herself to true love. As her marriage prospects dwindle and her life spins out of control, Lily continually looks back on her "date" with Selden as one of the happiest moments of her life: "Do you remember what you said to me once?" she says to him much later. "That you could help me only by loving me? Well—you did love me for a moment; and it helped me. It has always helped me."
3. American Psycho (Reservation obsession).
Patrick Bateman, the sociopathic protagonist of Bret Easton Ellis'"American Psycho," goes on many an odd "date" over the course of the novel—most of which end in gruesome bloodshed. One exception is his dinner with Jean, his secretary of five years and the only person for whom he has the slightest shred of feeling. In theory, impressing Jean with a night on the town should be easy; she's a few social ladder rungs beneath his usual prospects. But when she asks if he can take her to Dorsia—a notoriously exclusive Manhattan restaurant that Bateman has been obsessively struggling to get a reservation at—it sends the Wall Street executive into a panic that's as troubling as it is oddly charming.
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