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The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imaginationby Sarah Schulman
Synopses & Reviews
"Sarah Schulman, as always, hits the nail on the head. I can't imagine a more insightful probe into gentrification and its inhumane consequences. Everyone needs to read this book."—Martin Duberman, author of Stonewall
Sarah Schulman's The Gentrification of the Mind is a bulwark against the collective loss of memory. AIDS, gentrification, the struggle for gay rights, the class war that has driven entire communities of artists, immigrants, and outsiders from the neighborhoods they created—all these things have been erased by the official culture. Schulman's book will make you rage and weep, and then—just maybe—organize.”—Luc Sante, author of Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York
"Hard-headed, sensitive, and informed, this book will make the confused world of urban redevelopment and gentrification make notably more sense. Schulman has a mind as clear as a bell in evening. You'll be glad you read it. I was."—Samuel R. Delany, author of Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders
"In her latest book, queer activist Schulman (Ties that Bind) argues that the AIDS epidemic that ravaged the gay community in the U.S. from 1981 to 1996 spurred the process of gentrification, 'a concrete replacement process,' not only in New York City, but in the larger spheres of American theater, literature, and art. She seeks to demonstrate how 'the unexplored consequences of AIDS and the literal gentrification of cities created a diminished consciousness about how political and artistic change get made.' Schulman, who was a member of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), makes a bold argument, linking the rapid decline of the gay male population in New York City due to AIDS-especially in neighborhoods such as Chelsea, the East Village, Harlem, and the West Village-to the trend of homogenization, corporate takeovers, and rising rents. She warns, 'Pretending that AIDS is not happening and never happened, so that we don't have to be accountable, destroys our integrity and therefore our future.' Schulman's firsthand experience of the epidemic and the queer community should make for a poignant and stirring story, but the author's argument soon devolves into name dropping and discourses against motherhood and academia, to name a few. These diatribes are brimming with so much vitriol that they ultimately come across as the personal agenda of someone with an ax to grind rather than cogent research. "
Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In this gripping memoir of the AIDS years (19811996), Sarah Schulman recalls how much of the rebellious queer culture, cheap rents, and a vibrant downtown arts movement vanished almost overnight to be replaced by gay conservative spokespeople and mainstream consumerism. Schulman takes us back to her Lower East Side and brings it to life, filling these pages with vivid memories of her avant-garde queer friends and dramatically recreating the early years of the AIDS crisis as experienced by a political insider. Interweaving personal reminiscence with cogent analysis, Schulman details her experience as a witness to the loss of a generations imagination and the consequences of that loss.
About the Author
Sarah Schulman, Distinguished Professor of English at CUNY, Staten Island, is the author of nine novels, five books of nonfiction, plays, and films.
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