step lively

For years, ideas for tales based on my life in Manhattan in the late 70’s and early 80’s, were swirling around in my head.  Of the 14 tales in my fictional memoir, several of them were written already when I left New York City in 1983, but most of them formed over the years. These later tales gave me greater perspective as they let me step back for a “wider shot.” 

In Step Lively: New York City Tales of Love and Change, I wanted to paint a picture of New York City back then, a time still so engraved in my memory. Against the backdrop of Manhattan, a young married couple, Jill and Alex, fresh arrivals to the city, embark on new careers and a new life together, while they try unsuccessfully to resolve their conflicts and make their marriage work.

“Step Lively,” what the subway conductors used to say when you got off the train, also refers to the couple’s need to “step lively” in adjusting to their new life in the big city. The tales are told through different voices while Jill and Alex interact with various characters, such as a talking parakeet, Jill’s grandmothers and a born-again elevator man, as well as Jill’s bicycle, which even has its own voice in the memoir.

Though incidents in the book are not always “real,” the characters are, and even much of the dialogue is taken directly from notebooks I kept at the time. I’ve often wondered about this compulsive need I have to record events and conversations from my life in little and large notebooks alike. Joan Didion describes this “compulsion” in her essay “On Keeping a notebook” as “inexplicable to those who do not share it.” 

If you like nostalgia and reading about the ebb and flow of love, and New York City, then you’ll enjoy Step Lively: New York City Tales of Love and Change.

Based in Greece and retired from teaching, I write a monthly travel blog: You can follow me there or on Facebook or Instagram.

Author Sherri Moshman-Paganos