The Archaeology of Home
An Epic Set on a Thousand Square Feet of the Lower East Side
By Katharine Greider
(PublicAffairs, Hardcover, 9781586487126, 352pp.)
Publication Date: March 22, 2011
Categories: Historical - General
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The history of the author's own New York City house is the framework for an evocative meditation on the growth of America, and the meaning of home
Katharine Greider is a writer living in New York City. She got her start in journalism at an alternative newsweekly and then a small-town daily newspaper. As a freelancer she has written on health and medicine, culture, and other topics for local and national newspapers, magazines, and non-profit organizations, from the AARP Bulletin to the New York Times. Her first book was The Big Fix: How the Pharmaceutical Industry Rips Off American Consumers.
Library Journal, December 15, 2010
“An extraordinary narrative that brings together a chronology of events, a provenance of the once-tenement building, and even a personal memoir. In addition, she has compiled a fascinating chronicle of the previous residents, mostly newly arrived immigrants looking for a ‘better life in America.’ Her sleuthing of public records shows how the building had evolved over the 150 years of its existence, even determining what caused its ultimate doom. Well written and thoroughly researched, this sobering tale should resonate with many readers of our time who have also lost their homes, leaving them asking, ‘How could this happen to me?’”
“The ‘improbable memoir and epic history’ of one New York address, 239 East 7th Street, describing its series of inhabitants, all craving the security, boundary, and history that is home. With control and confidence, Greider tells her personal narrative while excavating an enormous cast of characters and their connections to and journey through one building in the Lower East Side that comes to represent Manhattan’s evolution…. An astonishing, complex, yet easy-to-digest tale. Greider succeeds brilliantly in magnifying 239—its tenants, structure, and surroundings—so thoroughly that we feel its grit, then zooming out to reveal ‘multitudes dancing on the head of a pin’—the macrocosm that is home, city, humanity.”
NPR.org, March 22, 2011 “Greider is a gifted and poetic stylist…. She is at her best, however, when she veers away from her research and off onto eloquent tangents about the very nature of ‘home.’”