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Despite her parents’ struggles with addiction, Lilly Dancyger always thought of her childhood as a happy one. But what happens when a journalist interrogates her own rosy memories to reveal the instability around the edges? Dancyger’s father, Joe Schactman, was part of the iconic 1980s East Village art scene. He created provocative sculptures out of found materials like animal bones, human hair, and broken glass, and brought his young daughter into his gritty, iconoclastic world. She idolized him—despite the escalating heroin addiction that sometimes overshadowed his creative passion. When Schactman died suddenly, just as Dancyger was entering adolescence, she went into her own self-destructive spiral, raging against a world that had taken her father away. As an adult, Dancyger began to question the mythology she’d created about her father—the brilliant artist, struck down in his prime. Using his sculptures, paintings, and prints as a guide, Dancyger sought out the characters from his world who could help her decode the language of her father’s work to find the truth of who he really was.
“Negative Space is a lovely and heartbreaking book; navigating pain, inheritance, and loss. Dancyger’s father emerges from these pages as vividly as if I’d known him...” —Carmen Maria Machado
"This book is so many things: a daughter's heartrending tribute, a love story riddled by addiction, a mystery whose solution lies at the intersection of art and memory. Together, they form a chorus that I could not turn away from.” —Melissa Febos, Award-winning author of Whip Smart and Abandon Me
“Lilly Dancyger creates an unflinching account of her artist father’s snakebitten life and his struggles with addiction – peeling back the layers around an artistic practice that seems weighted with vulnerability. Ultimately, he comes painfully alive as Dancyger charts an elegiac path to her own self-discovery.” —Cynthia Carr, author of Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz
"Using images and text, Negative Space shows us the New York art scene of the 1980’s and the author’s late father—but neither are ghosts here. They are written with full splendor, tenderness, and possibility. Exploring her artistic legacy, Dancyger confronts what it means to create and build meaning from absence. Candid, thrilling, wickedly smart, Negative Space is one of the greatest memoirs of this, or any, time." —T Kira Madden, award-winning author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls
Praise for Burn It Down: "Comprising essays from an amazing cast of contributors...this cathartic and incendiary anthology rages against the notion that women should temper their fury." —OprahMag.com
"Practically hot to the touch." —BookPage (Most Anticipated Fall Nonfiction)
"This book gives powerful voice to women's rage in all its glory."—Pacific Standard
"Dancyger collects essays from 22 female writers contemplating (and unleashing) anger, continuing the #MeToo ethos of emotional transparency and righteous indignation, to bracing and powerful effect. The writers are a diverse group and cover a wide range of experiences.... [Burn It Down is] a cathartic and often inspiring reading experience." —Publishers Weekly
"Powerful and provocative, this collection is an instructive read for anyone seeking to understand the many faces—and pains—of womanhood in 21st-century America." —Kirkus Reviews
"Burn It Down is a potent literary offering—a revolution born within the collective rage--expressed, unleashed, sublimated, and capsuled to honor our feminist legacy. Scorched earth speaks through these brilliant women who teach us that vulnerability and ire writ large will save those who have been shamed and condemned. Glorious, punk as hell, and utterly necessary." —Sophia Shalmiyev, award-winning author of Mother Winter
"Burn It Down is deeply affirming for any woman who has struggled with anger in this difficult world. There is no judgment here; only alchemy." —Kelly Sundberg, author of Goodbye, Sweet Girl
The twenty-two essays collected in Burn It Down are a gift of sanity and clear-eyed moral vision in an increasingly degraded moral world. This book galvanizes women's collective and individual rage, even as it redefines how we could and should understand that anger—and ourselves." —Lacy M. Johnson, author of The Reckonings and The Other Side
"This book is a true accomplishment, one that often left me stunned and disturbed in all the right ways, all the ways brilliant art does." —Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, award-winning author of The Fact of a Body
Lilly Dancyger is a contributing editor at Catapult, and assistant editor at Barrelhouse Books. She's the editor of Burn It Down, a critically acclaimed anthology of essays on women's anger, and her writing has been published by Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Playboy, Glamour, Longreads, The Rumpus, and more. She lives in New York City.