She rented a two-room apartment on the top floor of a converted brownstone house in the East Fifties. She furnished it with a great deal of care. Because the two rooms were smaller than those she had occupied in her father’s home, she could not take all her possessions with her. Those that she did take, therefore, were the fruit of a thoughtful selection. She told herself she was choosing the things she liked best, the things that meant the most to her, which was true; but as she hung each picture and placed each book upon the shelf, she saw it not only through her own eyes but also through the eyes of a visitor who would some day come to her apartment, a visitor as yet unidentified except as to his sex. Every article was invested with significance, an index to her self; the furniture and the lamps and the ashtrays (modern but not modernistic), the reproduction of her favourite painting (Charles Demuth’s My Egypt; not quite realistic; its planes accentuated and enriched by the eye of the artist), the records (some of the jazz and some of the Stravinsky and Bartók, but mostly the melodic listen-in-the-dark themes of Grieg and Brahms and Rachmaninoff), and the books – especially – the books, for what better index of the personality is there? (The novels and plays, the non-fiction and verse, all chosen in proportion and representation of her tastes.) It was like the concentrated abbreviation of a Help Wanted ad. The egocentricity which motivated it was not that of the spoiled, but of the too little spoiled; the lonely. Had she been an artist she would have painted a self-portrait; instead she decorated two rooms, changing them with objects which some visitor, some day, would recognize and understand. And through that understanding he would divine all the capacities and longings she had found in herself and was unable to communicate.
Ira Levin (1953)