A personal, informative portrayal of a unique New York community.

Debut author Schafer presents a memoir of time spent with New York City’s homeless.

On Thanksgiving evening in 1990, a reproduction of a Lakota tepee went up among a homeless encampment near the Manhattan Bridge. The encampment was known as The Hill. Those who put up the structure were, however, not the typical residents. The author and her partner, Nick Fracaro, had decided to set up their tepee as a way to commemorate the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. The event eventually took on a life of its own. Not only did the tent remain standing, it became a gateway for getting to know the community of The Hill. Although the couple kept their apartment in Brooklyn, they wound up spending a lot of time among the locals. The Hill was home to heroin addicts, drunks, and formerly incarcerated people. Of course these were also people with families, pasts, and stories to tell. As the author states, “Generally, The Hill is a sad place.” This was often due to the fact that the “need for drug-money is all-powerful.” Still, high school students, tourists, and the media came to visit. It all comes to life in this collection of journal entries, photographs, newspaper clippings, and other miscellanea. Rather than provide an overarching statement on homelessness, the book lets the author’s experiences speak for themselves—a powerful statement that doesn’t force an agenda. From Juan, a pushover crack addict, to Mr. Lee, who diligently tends to his own shack, the individuals are as unique as they are tragic. For those on the Hill with nowhere else to go, “There is no option like ‘giving up,’ only completing one’s destiny.” The reader comes to understand how “the future is not a concept on The Hill. Anything beyond today is a mystery.” Some entries, such as the author’s attempts to secure grant funding, are, naturally, not quite as interesting. Nevertheless, the material forms a highly readable firsthand account that is neither overly sentimental nor dismissive. The work features sketches by the author, usually portraits of residents of the Hill, and includes no-frills photos by Morton and Sterzing.

A personal, informative portrayal of a unique New York community.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-57027-384-1

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Autonomedia

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022


An overdue upending of art historical discourse.

An indispensable primer on the history of art, with an exclusive focus on women.

Prominent 19th-century art critic John Ruskin once proclaimed, “the woman’s intellect is not for invention or creation, but for sweet ordering, arrangement, and decision,” and traces of this misguided and malignant sentiment can still be found over a century later in art institutions around the world. A 2019 study found that “in the collections of eighteen major US art museums, 87 percent of artworks were by men, and 85 percent by white artists.” There’s a lot to be mad about, but London-based art historian Hessel nimbly pivots that energy into a constructive, revelatory project. This book is not a mere rebuttal to the aforementioned discrimination; deftly researched, the text reveals an alternate history of centuries of artistic movements. With palpable excitement, the author shifts the focus from widely known male participants to the unsung female players of the time. Art aficionados will delight in Hessel’s sleight of hand and marvel at her wide, inclusive reach. Spanning from Baroque art to the present day, she effortlessly removes “the clamour of men” and, in a series of short biographical profiles, shapes a historical arc that still feels grounded even without a familiar male presence. Art history must “reset,” Hessel writes, and she positions her book as an important first step in that reconfiguration. While the author progresses mostly movement by movement, her broader tangents are particularly profound. One of many highlights is a generous overview of queer artists of the Weimar era. Hessel is occasionally uneven with how much content she allots each artist, and some perfunctory profiles feel like the result of trying to highlight as many names as possible. Nonetheless, even the shortest gloss provides enough intrigue to be a successful introduction to an artist who might otherwise be forgotten.

An overdue upending of art historical discourse.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780393881868

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023


Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019