“Nobody shoplifts from a store that knows 3,214 ways to murder someone,” a sign at the Mysterious Bookshop in TriBeCa warns. But if the country’s oldest independent purveyor of mystery literature gets the ax, its owner will know why: money.
Philip Roth’s novel “The Plot Against America” is a masterwork of counterfactual history, a what-if story in which Charles Lindbergh, the aviation hero and Nazi sympathizer, is elected President in 1940, leading to the widespread persecution of Jews in the United States. The novel is also a counterfactual masterwork of personal history.
As “gentrification” has become an increasingly dirty word, the volume of disingenuous posturing on the subject has increased dramatically, and the supply of balanced reporting has declined. One writer who has managed to speak sensibly above the din is Kay S. Hymowitz, a contributing editor at City Journal and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. “The New Brooklyn” is her admirably clearheaded assessment of the borough that sometimes seems the epicenter of American gentrification.
Starting in closeup, with 10-year-old Eddy being assaulted in a primary school corridor, the narrative presents us with a compelling series of snapshots of a family and community where daily life is structured by working-class rage, male violence and alcohol. For an effeminate boy like Eddy, this world creates a perfect storm; his survival is not just in doubt, but simply impossible.
Few people ever saw the images of China girls, although for decades they were ubiquitous in movie theaters. At the beginning of a reel of film, there would be a few frames of a woman’s head. She might be dressed up; she might be scowling at the camera. She might blink or move her head.
But if audiences saw her, it was only because there had been a mistake.