This lengthy Andre Aciman essay excerpt (a month old now, but being bemoaned today by prominent Bostonians), taken from Our Boston: Writers Celebrate The City They Love, begins, promisingly, "I seldom went to Boston during my first two years in Cambridge."
[THEN COMES 1,700 WORDS OF THE MOST UNINTERESTING PEDESTRIAN DRIVEL YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE, INCLUDING, FOR EXAMPLE, THE FOLLOWING PASSAGE:
My Harvard universe was confined to a strip of four to five blocks on Massachusetts Avenue, with a mere two blocks extending over to Battle Street, along with the area immediately surrounding my dorm. This was Cambridge, my Cambridge, my comfort zone. Might as well have been living in a gated community. I never ventured beyond...
Some people study maps to know what to look for, where to go, how to set their bearings so as never to get lost. I have no inner sense of what a city looks like on paper, what are its focal points, or how a park or a river might separate one precinct from another. Boston's Marlborough, Newbury, and Beacon Streets may parallel one another, but to me they might as well belong to altogether different neighborhoods, because I've come to each from a different direction, on different errands, with different friends. In fact, I've seldom ever had to cross from Marlborough over to Beacon Street. These streets could just as well belong to different cities, different time zones, different itineraries, and ultimately to different selves. Who I was in Copley Square with a girlfriend one day is in no way the same person I was two years later on Faneuil Hall when I stopped by a store to buy a down jacket. One self couldn't possibly have known the other. As it turns out, these two areas adjoin each other. But I would never have known it at the time, much less known how to get from one to the other. I never connect the dots.
WOW SO YOU CAN'T READ A MAP, DESPITE YOUR HARVARD EDUCATION, CONGRATULATIONS, SIR, HERE IS YOUR PLUM SPOT IN AMERICA'S GREATEST MAGAZINE. I VENTURE TO GUESS THAT THIS PARTICULAR ESSAY IS EVEN MORE ANNOYING TO ACTUAL BOSTONIANS THAN IT IS TO MERE OUTSIDE BOSTON-HATERS, BECAUSE IT PURPORTS TO SPEAK ON THE CITY'S BEHALF WITH SENTENCES SUCH AS, "One day, after lunching with a friend, we decided to stroll around the Quincy Market area, which is when it suddenly dawned on me that Boston's Italian neighborhood was just across the street." I CAN ONLY IMAGINE THAT WRITERS WHO ACTUALLY LIVE IN BOSTON CAN ONLY SHAKE THEIR HEADS DERISIVELY AND MUTTER, "GOOD LORD, YOU'RE MAKING US ALL SOUND LIKE A BUNCH OF WANDERING TOURISTS IN OUR OWN GOD DAMN CITY, LEARN TO READ A FUCKING MAP, WHY DON'T YOU? WAY TO 'CELEBRATE THE CITY YOU LOVE,' WITH A LENGTHY ESSAY ABOUT HOW, AFTER SEVERAL YEARS LIVING HERE, YOU DISCOVERED THAT IT WAS POSSIBLE TO BUY ITALIAN FOOD. JESUS CHRIST."]