Pop Culture

New to the Big Apple, Carrie Bradshaw is full of awe

Candace Bushnell’s "Sex and the City" inspired the hit HBO series (and two Hollywood movies) and made Carrie Bradshaw and her friends part of American pop culture. Her latest book, “Summer and the City,” part of the “Carrie Diaries,” is set in the 1980s before Carrie became a successful writer, when she is new to the Big Apple and just taking her first steps toward her dreams. Read an excerpt:

The party is in a dusky pink house at the end of a cobblestoned street. I can see the river through a crack between the buildings, turgid and brown under glints of sunlight.

“David’s very eccentric,” Samantha warns, as if eccentricity might be an unwelcome trait to a new arrival from the provinces. “Someone brought a miniature horse to his last party and it crapped all over the Aubusson carpet.”

I pretend to know what an Aubusson carpet is in favor of learning more about the horse. “How’d they get it there?”

“Taxi,” Samantha says. “It was a very small horse.”

I hesitate. “Will your friend David mind? Your bringing me?”

“If he doesn’t mind a miniature horse, I can’t imagine he’ll mind you. Unless you’re a drag or a bore.”

“I might be a bore but I’m never a drag.”

“And the stuff about coming from a small town? Nix it,” she says. “In New York, you need a shtick.”

“A shtick?”

“Who you are, but better. Embellish,” she says with a flourish as we pause in front of the house. It’s four stories high and the blue door is flung open in welcome, revealing a colorful throng, twirling and weaving like a chorus in a musical show. My insides throb with excitement. That door is my entrance to another world.

We’re about to cross the threshold when a shiny black marble of a man comes rolling out, a bottle of champagne in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other. “Samantha!” he screams.

“Davide,” Samantha shouts, giving the name a French twist.

“And who are you?” he asks, peering at me with friendly curiosity.

“Carrie Bradshaw, sir.” I hold out my hand.

“How divine,” he squeals. “I haven’t been called ‘sir’ since I was in short pants. Not that I ever was in short pants. Where have you been hiding this delightful young person?”

“I found her on my doorstep.”

“Did you arrive in a basket like Moses?” he asks.

“Train,” I reply.

“And what brings you to the Emerald City?”

“Oh.” I smile. And taking Samantha’s advice to heart, I quickly blurt out, “I’m going to become a famous writer.”

“Like Kenton!” he exclaims.

“Kenton James?” I ask breathlessly.

“Is there any other? He should be here somewhere. If you trip across a very small man with a voice like a miniature poodle, you’ll know you’ve found him.”

In the next second, David Ross is halfway across the room and Samantha is sitting on a strange man’s lap.

“Over here.” She waves from the couch.

I push past a woman in a white jumpsuit. “I think I just saw my first Halston!”

“Is Halston here?” Samantha asks.

Candace Bushnell

If I’m at the same party with Halston and Kenton James, I’m going to die. “I meant the jumpsuit.”

“Oh, the jumpsuit,” she says with exaggerated interest to the man beneath her. From what I can see of him, he’s tan and sporty, sleeves rolled up over his forearms.

“You’re killing me,” he says.

“This is Carrie Bradshaw. She’s going to be a famous writer,” Samantha says, taking up my moniker as if it’s suddenly fact.

“Hello, famous writer.” He holds out his hand, the fingers narrow and burnished like bronze.

“This is Bernard. The idiot I didn’t sleep with last year,” she jokes.

“Didn’t want to be another notch in your belt,” Bernard drawls.

“I’m not notching anymore. Don’t you know?” She holds out her left hand for inspection. An enormous diamond glitters from her ring finger. “I’m engaged.”

She kisses the top of Bernard’s dark head and looks around the room. “Who do I have to spank to get a drink around here?”

“I’ll go,” Bernard volunteers. He stands up and for one inexplicable moment, it’s like watching my future unfold.

“C’mon, famous writer. Better come with me. I’m the only sane person here.” He puts his hands on my shoulders and steers me through the crowd.

I look back at Samantha, but she only smiles and waves, that giant sparkler catching the last rays of sunlight. How did I not notice that ring before?

Guess I was too busy noticing everything else.

Like Bernard. He’s tall and has straight dark hair. A large, crooked nose. Hazel-green eyes and a face that changes from mournful to delighted every other second, as if he has two personalities pulling him in opposite directions.

I can’t fathom why he’s paying me so much attention, but I’m mesmerized. People keep coming up and congratulating him, while snippets of conversation waft around my head like dandelion fluff.

“You never give up, do you —”

“Crispin knows him and he’s terrified—”

“I said, ‘Why don’t you try diagramming a sentence —’”

“Dreadful. Even her diamonds looked dirty —”

Bernard gives me a wink. And suddenly his full name comes back to me from some old copy of Time magazine or Newsweek. Bernard Singer? The playwright?

He can’t be, I panic, knowing instinctively he is.

How the hell did this happen? I’ve been in New York for exactly two hours, and already I’m with the beautiful people?

“What’s your name again?” he asks.

“Carrie Bradshaw.” The name of his play, the one that won the Pulitzer Prize, enters my brain like a shard of glass: Cutting Water.

“I’d better get you back to Samantha before I take you home myself,” he purrs.

“I wouldn’t go,” I say tartly. Blood pounds in my ears. My glass of champagne is sweating.

“Where do you live?” He squeezes my shoulder.

“I don’t know.”

This makes him roar with laughter. “You’re an orphan. Are you Annie?”

“I’d rather be Candide.” We’re edged up against a wall near French doors that lead to a garden. He slides down so we’re eye-level.

“Where did you come from?”

I remind myself of what Samantha told me. “Does it matter? I’m here.”

“Cheeky devil,” he declares. And suddenly, I’m glad I was robbed. The thief took my bag and my money, but he also took my identity. Which means for the next few hours, I can be anyone I want.

From “Summer and the City" by Candace Bushnell. Copyright © 2011. Reprinted by permission of Balzer + Bray, a division of HarperCollins.

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