An excerpt from Exit Ghost
Philip Roth's protagonist Nathan Zuckerman reflects on city life and cell phones in Exit Ghost:
What surprised me most my first few days walking around the city? The most obvious thing - the cell phones. We had no reception as yet up on my mountain, and down in Athena, where they do have it, I'd rarely see people striding the streets talking uninhibitedly into their phones. I remembered a New York when the only people walking up Broadway seemingly talking to themselves were crazy. What had happened in these ten years for there suddenly to be so much to say - so much so pressing that it couldn't wait to be said? Everywhere I walked, somebody was approaching me talking on a phone and somebody behind me talking on a phone. Inside the car, the drivers were on the phone. When I took a taxi, the cabbie was on the phone. For one who frequently went without talking to anyone for days at a time, I had to wonder what that had previously held them up had collapsed in people to make incessant talking into a telephone preferable to walking under no one's surveillance, momentarily solitary, assimilating the streets through one's animal senses and thinking the myriad thoughts that the activities of a city inspire. For me it made the streets appear comic and the people ridiculous. And yet it seemed like a real tragedy, too. To eradicate the experience of separation must inevitably have a dramatic effect. What will the consequence be? You know you can reach the other person anytime, and if you can't, you get impatient - impatient and angry like a little stupid god.
Philip Roth, Exit Ghost