Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Last Bohemia

The Last Bohemia

Scenes from the Life of Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Robert Anasi

FSG Originals

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A firsthand account of the swift transformation of Williamsburg, from factory backwater to artists' district to trendy hub and high-rise colony

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is now so synonymous with hipster culture and the very idea of urban revitalization—so well-known from Chicago to Cambodia as the playground for the game of ironized status-seeking and lifestyle one-upmanship—that it's easy to forget how just a few years ago it was a very different neighborhood: a spread of factories, mean streets and ratty apartments that the rest of New York City feared and everyone but artists with nowhere else to go left alone.
Robert Anasi hasn't forgotten. He moved to a $300-a-month apartment in Williamsburg in 1994, and watched as the area went through a series of surreal transformations: the warehouses became lofts, secret cocaine bars became sylized absinthe parlors, barrooms became stage sets for inde-rock careers and rents rose and rose—until the local artists found that their ideal of personal creativity had served the aims of global commerce, and that their neighborhood now belonged to someone else.
Tight, passionate, and provocative, The Last Bohemia is at once a celebration of the fever dream of bohemia, a lament for what Williamsburg has become and a cautionary tale about the lurching transformations of city neighborhoods throughout the United States.

EXCERPT

1

Dark City
1988–1994

The explosion cracked the summer evening. Light flash and then smoke rising. Another crack and flash, and another, four in all, shredding air and reverberating in the basin of the empty pool. The...

Reviews

Praise for The Last Bohemia

"His clear-eyed, heartfelt elegy shows why a Williamsburg—free, fecund, gloriously threadbare—is so vital to the culture."—Publishers Weekly

"With a fine ear for dialogue and a nonjudgmental eye, Anasi conjures the pre-9/11 atmosphere of the place, in which the beer flowed like water and there was always a place to crash after a night of pub crawling. An impressive bit of literary journalism and a sympathetic look at a vanished era."—Kirkus Reviews

In the Press

At the exact hour on February 12, 2012 that I was supposed to be ferrying the manuscript for The Last Bohemia to the FSG offices, I was puking into the toilet of my Greenpoint sublet. Dubious Chinese and sleep deprivation were to blame. After peeling my hands off the tile, I scrubbed my teeth, got dressed, and made my way to the subway. I felt like a human bruise. - FSG's Work in Progress

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Robert Anasi

Robert Anasi is the author of The Gloves: A Boxing Chronicle (North Point Press, 2002). He teaches literary journalism at the University of California, Irvine, where he is a Schaeffer and Chancellor's Club fellow. He is also a founding editor of the literary journal Entasis.

Robert Anasi

© Nadia Lesy

Robert Anasi