Wednesday, April 20, 2011

THE AMERICAN EARTHQUAKE by Edmund Wilson

In the newer part of town, the East Forties, looking down from a high upper window, one takes account of the monstrous carcass of the Grand Central Station and Palace, with its myriad skylights and its zinc-livid roofs, stretched out like a segmented seaworm that is almost unrecognizable as a form of life. Beyond it rise the upright rectangles of drab or raw yellow brick--yellows devoid of brilliance, browns that are never rich--perforated, as if by a perforating machine, with rows of rectangular windows; the stiff black fingers of factories; blunt truncated meaningless towers; a broken scrambling of flat roofs and sharp angles which is yet a compact fitting-in; and then the lead-silver river strung across with its skeletal bridge. In the middle distance, the sky itself seems to be overdisplaced--like a pool in which a large safe has been dropped--by a disagreeably colored hotel, brownish yellow like a bronchial trochee and so immense that its cubic acres seem to weigh down the very island, almost to make it sag. A flock of pigeons that fly below have the look, in the dull light, of wastepaper blown by the wind.