In the midnineties, New York’s Lower East Side contained a city within its shadows: a community of squatters who staked their claims on abandoned tenements and lived and worked within their own parameters, accountable to no one but each other. With gritty prose and vivid descriptions, Cari Luna’s debut novel, The Revolution of Every Day, imagines the lives of five squatters from that time. But almost more threatening than the city lawyers and the private developers trying to evict them are the rifts within their community. Amelia, taken in by Gerrit as a teen runaway seven years earlier, is now pregnant by his best friend, Steve. Anne, married to Steve, is questioning her commitment to the squatter lifestyle. Cat, a fading legend of the downtown scene and unwitting leader of one of the squats, succumbs to heroin. The misunderstandings and assumptions, the secrets and the dissolution of the hope that originally bound these five threaten to destroy their homes as surely as the city’s battering rams. The Revolution of Every Day shows readers a life that few people, including the New Yorkers who passed the squats every day, know about or understand.
I’d been looking forward to this one ever since I heard that it was to be published. I’ve enjoyed Cari’s writing since the long-ago days when her blog was called Dogs Steal Yarn, before her two children were even one Thumper. It feels very…warm, and real. She manages to avoid That Thing where the written word loses the human connection to the person issuing it; she keeps the inflection, the emotion, the weight.
I was not disappointed. Her characters fascinated me, and gave me a window into lives that are so unlike my own; passions I will likely never have, logic that feels alien to me, ideals that are at once completely counter to my own, and yet I feel sympathetic toward them.
It made me think. It stayed with me, and had me mulling over Things for quite a while after I’d finished the last page.
I like that in a book, and frankly not many give me that anymore. Thumbs way up, Cari – well done.