Michael Greenberg is the author of Hurry Down Sunshine and Beg, Borrow, and Steal: A Writer’s Life. 
(August 2017)


On the Town

Garth Risk Hallberg, New York City, February 2016

City on Fire

by Garth Risk Hallberg
Every American decade since at least the 1920s is eventually reduced to a handful of images—photographs, news headlines, movie stills, cartoons, posters—that become the clichés of their time. For New York City of the 1970s, the images include weary and hemmed-in subway riders on a train every inch of which …

The Passions of Vargas Llosa

Mario Vargas Llosa, Lima, Peru, October 1994

Notes on the Death of Culture: Essays on Spectacle and Society

by Mario Vargas Llosa, edited and translated from the Spanish by John King

The Discreet Hero

by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman
Even among his extraordinary generation of Latin American literary figures, Mario Vargas Llosa has had an unusually prodigious career. He is nine years younger than his most famous contemporary, Gabriel García Márquez, yet his first two novels had an electrifying effect on Latin American literature when García Márquez was still …

Scorched by Murder

Richard Price, New York City, 2009

Lush Life

by Richard Price

The Whites

by Richard Price writing as Harry Brandt
Richard Price published his first novel, The Wanderers, in 1974, when he was twenty-four. It’s a propulsive, plotless bullet of a book whose story is its teenage characters’ lives. It has much in common with Last Exit to Brooklyn, Hubert Selby Jr.’s sordid gale force of a novel about dope …

Catching Hold of the Devious City

Saul Leiter: Red Umbrella, circa 1955

The New York School: Photographs, 1936–1963

by Jane Livingston

Saul Leiter: Early Black and White

with essays by Max Kozloff and Jane Livingston
New York street photographers were among the great flaneurs of the twentieth century. These weaponized observers with their loaded metal boxes (so much more conspicuous than reporters with their pocket-sized notebooks) did their most striking work in the 1940s and 1950s. One thinks of Helen Levitt’s image, from 1940, of …


The New Resistance

The first weeks of the Trump administration have felt at times like the onset of a kind of cold civil war. Everything about the present moment feels different than protests of the past. In 2003, protests against the invasion of Iraq received virtually no support from elected representatives and were dismissed by most news outlets as knee-jerk pacifism and therefore inconsequential. Today, the opposition to Trump’s policies from a broad range of present and former elected officials has been immediate and appears to be spurred on by, and in visceral agreement with, protesters on the street.

Caught in the Act

A sampling of meticulous mug shots, along with about forty crime-related images from American tabloids, police files, security cameras, and photographers both anonymous and widely known, comprise the fascinating exhibition “Crime Stories: Photography and Foul Play,” currently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The curators have set up an interesting dialogue between celebrated victims and assassins, on the one hand, and the unknown on the other: Robert F. Kennedy seconds after he was shot on June 5, 1968, provokes a predictable ache; an anonymous, plebian bank robber, ferociously tries to shoot out a security camera in a burst of smoke and light.

Dislodged in New York

Mark Reay in Thomas Wirthensohn's Homme Less, 2014

A new documentary, Homme Less, opening on August 7 at the IFC Center in Manhattan, is a reminder of how far the homeless population now reaches in New York. Mark Reay, fashion photographer and former model, has been living on the fire-escape of a private building for three years. With Promethean effort he has managed to hold the dooming signs of destitution (the odor, the accreted grime) at bay. Though he is isolated in his double life, he is far from alone.