Making Rent in Bed-Stuy, by Brandon Harris
“Brandon Harris’s first book is a wide-ranging meditation on race, poverty, bohemia, and film history. It’s the introduction to American letters of a brilliant, funny, antic voice—and a rebuke, in a form newly discovered, to the people James Baldwin once called our ‘morally bankrupt and desperately dishonest countrymen.’”
—Keith Gessen, author of All the Sad Young Literary Men
Making Rent in Bed-Stuy explores the history and sociocultural importance of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn’s largest historically black community, through the lens of a coming-of-age young American negro artist living at the dawn of an era in which urban class warfare is politely referred to as gentrification. Bookended by accounts of two different breakups, from a roommate and a lover, both who come from the white American elite, the book oscillates between chapters of urban bildungsroman and a historical examination of some of Bed-Stuy’s most salient aesthetic and political legacies.
Filled with personal stories and a vibrant cast of iconoclastic characters—friends and acquaintances such as Spike Lee; Lena Dunham; and Paul MacCleod, who made a living charging $5 for a tour of his extensive Elvis collection—Making Rent in Bed-Stuy poignantly captures what happens when youthful idealism clashes head-on with adult reality.
Melding in-depth reportage and personal narrative that investigates the disappointments and ironies of the Obama era, Making Rent in Bed-Stuy describes Brandon Harris’s radicalization, and the things he lost, and gained, along the way.
Praise for Making Rent in Bed-Stuy
“Fascinating . . . This memoir provides hard-won insights into the divided loyalties of middle-class African Americans, and a convincing description of a 21st-century New York City where only the rich can thrive.”
“A thought-provoking examination of the millennial black experience in the first decade of the 21st century.”
“There were passages that made me burst out laughing, paragraphs that made me want to scream, and pages that made me want to take Brandon by the collar and simply shake him to his senses. Clever and powerful. Everybody interested in discovering how millennials are living will find Making Rent in Bed-Stuy fascinating.”
—Julianne Malveaux, author of Are We Better Off? Race, Obama, and Public Policy