When middle-class residents fled American cities in the 1960s and 1970s, government services and investment capital left too. Countless urban neighborhoods thus entered phases of precipitous decline, prompting the creation of community-based organizations that sought to bring direly needed resources back to the inner city. Today there are tens of thousands of these CBOs—private nonprofit groups that work diligently within tight budgets to give assistance and opportunity to our most vulnerable citizens by providing services such as housing, child care, and legal aid.
Through ethnographic fieldwork at eight CBOs in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Bushwick, Nicole P. Marwell discovered that the complex and contentious relationships these groups form with larger economic and political institutions outside the neighborhood have a huge and unexamined impact on the lives of the poor. Most studies of urban poverty focus on individuals or families, but Bargaining for Brooklyn widens the lens, examining the organizations whose actions and decisions collectively drive urban life.
The Body of Brooklyn
David Lazar University of Iowa Press, 2003 Library of Congress F128.9.J5L39 2003 | Dewey Decimal 974.723004924009
Even before the controversy that surrounded the publication of A Million Little Pieces, the question of truth has been at the heart of memoir. From Elie Wiesel to Benjamin Wilkomirski to David Sedaris, the veracity of writers' claims has been suspect. In this fascinating and timely collection of essays, leading writers meditate on the subject of truth in literary nonfiction. As David Lazar writes in his introduction, "How do we verify? Do we care to? (Do we dare to eat the apple of knowledge and say it's true? Or is it a peach?) Do we choose to? Is it a subcategory of faith? How do you respond when someone says, 'This is really true'? Why do they choose to say it then?"
The past and the truth are slippery things, and the art of non-fiction writing requires the writer to shape as well as explore. In personal essays, meditations on the nature of memory, considerations of the genres of memoir, prose poetry, essay, fiction, and film, the contributors to this provocative collection attempt to find answers to the question of what truth in nonfiction means.
John D'Agata, Mark Doty, Su Friedrich, Joanna Frueh, Ray González, Vivian Gornick, Barbara Hammer, Kathryn Harrison, Marianne Hirsch, Wayne Koestenbaum, Leonard Kriegel, David Lazar, Alphonso Lingis, Paul Lisicky, Nancy Mairs, Nancy K. Miller, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Phyllis Rose, Oliver Sacks, David Shields, and Leo Spitzer.
From Paris to Rio, everyone’s curious about hot, new Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Experience, Ellen Freudenheim’s fourth comprehensive Brooklyn guidebook, offers a true insider’s guide, complete with photographs, itineraries, and insights into one of the most creative, dynamic cities in the modern world.
Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge at dawn or sunset, discover thirty-eight unique Brooklyn neighborhoods, and experience the borough like a native. Find out where to go to the beach and to eat great pizza, what to do with the kids, how to enjoy free and cheap activities, and where to savor Brooklyn’s famous cuisines. Visit cool independent shops, greenmarkets, festivals, and delve into the vibrant new cultural scene at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Barclays Center, and the lively exploding neighborhoods of DUMBO, Williamsburg, and Bushwick.
Included in the book are essays and the pithy, sometimes funny comments of sixty cultural, literary, and culinary movers and shakers, culled from exclusive interviews with experts from the James Beard Foundation to the cofounder of the famous Brooklyn Book Festival, as well as MacArthur “genius” award winners, to young entrepreneurs, hipsters, and activists, all of whom have something to say about Brooklyn’s stunning renaissance. Neighborhood profiles are rich in user-friendly information and details, including movies, celebrities, and novels associated with each neighborhood. There are also 800 listings of great restaurants, bars, shops, parks, cultural institutions, and historical sites, complete with contact information.
Targeting the independent, curious traveler, The Brooklyn Experience includes a dozen “do-it-yourself” tours, including a visit to Woody Allen’s childhood neighborhood, and amazing Revolutionary and Civil War sites.
Freudenheim draws clear—and sometimes surprising—connections between old and new Brooklyn. Written by an author with an astounding knowledge of all Brooklyn has to offer, The Brooklyn Experience will guide both first-time and repeat visitors, and will be a fun resource for Brooklynites who enjoy exploring their own hometown.
In My Father'S Study
Ben Orlove University of Iowa Press, 1995 Library of Congress F128.9.J5O75 1995 | Dewey Decimal 974.7004924
In 1921 Solomon Orlovski, a Russian Jew born in 1904, emigrated to America and transformed himself into Robert Orlove, a pattern maker in two senses of the term: during the day, he worked in the fur trade in New York and Chicago, making patterns for toys and hats; in his private life he became a self-taught artist who created prints, sketches, and collages in his study. More than sixty years later his son Ben—an anthropologist educated at Harvard and Berkeley—walked through the doorway of the deceased Robert's study and began to explore more than a half century of his father's experiences, thoughts, and emotions as well as his own very different life. His wry, sensitive combination of biography, memoir, and autobiography taps a remarkably rich vein of individual and collective experience in our diverse society.
Ben Orlove's dual narrative constitutes a family history of notable breadth and immediacy. By turns passionate and cool, dramatic and analytic, he excavates his father Robert's lifetime accumulation of diaries, letters, clippings, photographs, and artworks to create a convincing, deeply satisfying portrait that link both father and son.
A Mother's Kisses
Bruce Jay Friedman University of Chicago Press, 2000 Library of Congress PS3556.R5M6 2000 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
A Mother's Kisses is the story of Joseph, a tall, scattered looking boy of seventeen and his wonderfully indomitable mother, Meg, who is resolved, in the summer after her son's high-school graduation to start arranging his life for him, even going so far as to accompany him to college. A work of roaring comedy and emotional honesty, A Mother's Kisses is a classic of modern fiction.
No one today thinks of Brooklyn, New York, as an agricultural center. Yet Kings County enjoyed over two centuries of farming prosperity. Even as late as 1880 it was one of the nation's leading vegetable producers, second only to neighboring Queens County.
In Of Cabbages and Kings County, Marc Linder and Lawrence Zacharias reconstruct the history of a lost agricultural community. Their study focuses on rural Kings County, the site of Brooklyn's tremendous expansion during the latter part of the nineteenth century. In particular, they question whether sprawl was a necessary condition of American industrialization: could the agricultural base that preceded and surrounded the city have survived the onrush of residential real estate speculation with a bit of foresight and public policies that the politically outnumbered farmers could not have secured on their own?
The first part of the book reviews the county's Dutch American agricultural tradition, in particular its conversion after 1850 from extensive farming (e.g., wheat, corn) to intensive farming of market garden crops. The authors examine the growing competition between local farmers and their southern counterparts for a share of the huge New York City market, comparing farming conditions and factors such as labor and transportation.
In the second part of the book, the authors turn their attention to the forces that eventually destroyed Kings County's farming—ranging from the political and ideological pressures to modernize the city's rural surroundings to unplanned, market-driven attempts to facilitate transportation for more affluent city dwellers to recreational outlets on Coney Island and, once transportation was at hand, to replace farms with residential housing for the city's congested population.
Drawing on a vast range of archival sources, the authors refocus the history of Brooklyn to uncover what was lost with the expansion of the city. For today, as urban planners, ecologists, and agricultural developers reevaluate urban sprawl and the need for greenbelts or agricultural-urban balance, the lost opportunities of the past loom larger.
New York's urban neighborhoods are full of young would-be emcees who aspire to "keep it real" and restaurants like Sylvia's famous soul food eatery that offer a taste of "authentic" black culture. In these and other venues, authenticity is considered the best way to distinguish the real from the phony, the genuine from the fake. But in Real Black, John L. Jackson Jr. proposes a new model for thinking about these issues—racial sincerity.
Jackson argues that authenticity caricatures identity as something imposed on people, imprisoning them within stereotypes: an African American high school student who excels in the classroom, for instance, might be dismissed as "acting white." On the other hand, sincerity, as Jackson defines it, imagines authenticity as an incomplete measuring stick, an analytical model that attempts to deny people agency in their search for identity.
Drawing on more than ten years of ethnographic research in and around New York City, Jackson offers a kaleidoscope of subjects and stories that directly and indirectly address how race is negotiated in today's world—including tales of book-vending numerologists, urban conspiracy theorists, corrupt police officers, mixed-race neo-Nazis, and gospel choirs forbidden to catch the Holy Ghost. Jackson records and retells their interconnected sagas, all the while attempting to reconcile these stories with his own crisis of identity and authority as an anthropologist terrified by fieldwork. Finding ethnographic significance where mere mortals see only bricks and mortar, his invented alter ego Anthroman takes to the streets, showing how race is defined and debated, imposed and confounded every single day.
The nation's leading minister stands accused of adultery. He vehemently denies the charge but confesses to being on "the ragged edge of despair." His alleged lover is a woman of mystical faith, nearly "Catholic" in her piety. Her husband, a famous writer, sues the minister for damages. A six-month trial ends inconclusively, but it holds the nation in thrall. It produces gripping drama, scathing cartoons, and soul-searching editorials. Trials of Intimacy is the story of a scandal that shook American culture to the core in the 1870s because the key players were such vaunted moral leaders. In that respect there has never been another case like it—except The Scarlet Letter, to which it was constantly compared.
Henry Ward Beecher was pastor of Brooklyn's Plymouth Church and for many the "representative man" of mid-nineteenth century America. Elizabeth Tilton was the wife of Beecher's longtime intimate friend Theodore. His accusation of "criminal conversation" between Henry and Elizabeth confronted the American public with entirely new dilemmas about religion and intimacy, privacy and publicity, reputation and celebrity. The scandal spotlighted a series of comic and tragic loves and betrayals among these three figures, with a supporting cast that included Victoria Woodhull, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
To readers at the time, the Beecher-Tilton Scandal was an irresistible mystery. Richard Fox puts his readers into that same reverberating story, while offering it as a timeless tale of love, deception, faith, and the confounding indeterminacy of truth. Trials of Intimacy revises our conception of nineteenth-century morals and passions. And it is an American history richly resonant with present-day dramas.
White Boy: A Memoir
Mark D. Naison Temple University Press, 2002 Library of Congress E185.98.N35A3 2002 | Dewey Decimal 974.723
How does a Jewish boy who spent the bulk of his childhood on the basketball courts of Brooklyn wind up teaching in one of the city's pioneering black studies departments? Naison's odyssey begins as Brooklyn public schools respond to a new wave of Black migrants and Caribbean immigrants, and established residents flee to virtually all-white parts of the city or suburbs. Already alienated by his parents' stance on race issues and their ambitions for him, he has started on a separate ideological path by the time he enters Columbia College. Once he embarks on a long-term interracial relationship, becomes a member of SDS, focuses his historical work on black activists, and organizes community groups in the Bronx, his immersion in the radical politics of the 1960s has emerged as the center of his life. Determined to keep his ties to the Black community, even when the New Left splits along racial lines, Naison joined the fledgling African American studies program at Fordham, remarkable then as now for its commitment to interracial education.This memoir offers more than a participant's account of the New Left's racial dynamics; it eloquently speaks to the ways in which political commitments emerge from and are infused with the personal choices we all make.