Jay Neugeboren is the author of twenty-two books of fiction and nonfiction, including the memoir Imagining Robert: My Brother, Madness, and Survival and, most recently, the novel Max Baer and the Star of David (2016). (August 2020)

IN THE REVIEW

Take Me to Bellevue

A shared room at the Bellevue Men’s Shelter, housed since 1984 in the former psychiatric building of Bellevue Hospital, New York City, 2010; photograph by Eric Michael Johnson

Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital

by David Oshinsky
When I was a boy growing up in Brooklyn in the years following World War II, I did not know that Bellevue was a hospital. I thought it was simply the name for a scary place that housed grotesque and terrifying crazy people. Later on, my brother Robert, a mental …

On Wiseman’s Heights

Thirty-seventh Avenue, Jackson Heights, Queens; from Frederick Wiseman’s documentary film In Jackson Heights

In Jackson Heights

a film directed by Frederick Wiseman
Toward the end of In Jackson Heights, Frederick Wiseman’s wonderfully dreamlike new film—a seeming celebration of a neighborhood in Queens that its city councilman calls “the most diverse community in the whole world”—we see two Cuban grandmothers singing, with great joy and abandon, “Yo Vendo Unos Ojos Negros.” I sell …

Dark Comedies of the City

Michael Greenberg, New York City, 2009

Beg, Borrow, Steal: A Writer's Life

by Michael Greenberg
In Hurry Down Sunshine (2008), Michael Greenberg told the story of his daughter Sally’s breakdown—of how, in the summer of 1996, she “was struck mad.” His extraordinary tale of the journey he and his daughter make following Sally’s collapse tells us as much about the complexity and mystery of those …

Infiltrating the Enemy of the Mind

The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness

by Elyn R. Saks
Twenty-seven years old and in her first semester at Yale Law School, Elyn Saks had days when, she writes, I feared that my brain was actually heating up and might explode. I visualized brain matter flying all over the room, spattering the walls. Whenever I sat at a desk and …

NYR DAILY

Dickens in Brooklyn

The Neugeborens (the author, second left), Brooklyn, circa 1945

When, a few weeks ago, I took down from my shelves Dickens’s Great Expectations and found the “Dear Reader” letter, I was transported again—as I’d been so often while reading Dickens—to that mid-century world of my childhood. Other than the one time my mother and I read to each other from the opening pages of Great Expectations, I don’t recall ever seeing my father or mother actually reading a book of Dickens, and yet, in memory, our family life—a mid-twentieth-century Brooklyn world determined by difficult economic circumstances, inhabited by eccentric, larger-than-life characters, rooted in family feuds about inheritance and money, and steeped in scenes of intense, high drama—seems distinctly Dickensian.