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Alphabet City

Geoffrey Biddle; Geoffrey Biddle [Photographer]; Miguel Algarin [Introduction];

4 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0520079493 / ISBN 13: 9780520079496
Published by University of California Press, 1992
New Condition: New Soft cover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Alphabet City

Publisher: University of California Press

Publication Date: 1992

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:New

About this title

Synopsis:

"My Moms was a good person. She cared, but she just couldn't hack us no more. She kept saying she gonna kill herself, too. The day she died, she told me that my father hit her, and I told her, That was good for you, for not cooking for him. And she left. I didn't know she took the pills, though. The next day, they told me she was dead."—Pistol

This searing portrait of inner-city life takes us inside one of America's deadly urban battlefronts—the Puerto Rican neighborhood of Alphabet City on New York's Lower East Side. With unnerving clarity, Geoffrey Biddle shows us the people who live there, summoning their spirit against the brutalizing conditions of poverty, joblessness, drugs, crime, and violence. Capturing life in this ghetto on film and in words with rawness and compassion, he shows the human toll of impoverishment and neglect.

In 1977 Geoffrey Biddle photographed the residents of Alphabet City for the first time. Ten years later, he returned to this same area and photographed many of the same people again, this time also interviewing them. Alphabet City is the result of those encounters.

While the stories are unique, they coalesce into a single tale all the more jarring for the matter-of-fact tone in which it is told. There is Ariel, whose dreams of becoming a boxer were destroyed when he contracted AIDS. And Linda, raising three sons while sleeping in the street, hungry and drug-addicted. There are also tales of human resilience like Richard's, a defiant former gang member who now attends college. These stories belong not only to one New York neighborhood, but to urban ghettos across the United States.

Framed by Miguel Algarín's compelling introduction and dramatized by the speakers' own testimony, Geoffrey Biddle's photographs are haunting portrayals of a ravaged community battling ineffectually against deprivation and betrayal. This book forces us to see faces and to hear voices that won't be easy to forget, and yet which in the end are not so different from our own.

About the Author:

Geoffrey Biddle is a freelance photographer whose work has appeared in GEO, U.S. News & World Report, The New York Times, Fortune, and GRANTA. His work has been displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He lives on the Lower East Side in New York City. Miguel Algarín is an internationally recognized poet and theatrical director and producer. Director of the Nuyorican Poets' Cafe on the Lower East Side, he has taught at Rutgers University since 1965.

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