cover image Feral City: On Finding Liberation in Lockdown New York

Feral City: On Finding Liberation in Lockdown New York

Jeremiah Moss. Norton, $27.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-393-86847-0

Pushcart Prize winner Moss (Vanishing New York) reflects in these razor-sharp essays on how life in New York City changed when the “New People” (“young and funded... utterly unblemished, physically fit and clean-cut, as bland as skim milk and unsalted Saltines”) fled during the Covid-19 pandemic. Moss, who moved to the East Village in the 1990s as a “young, queer, transsexual poet,” opens with a lacerating account of how his building has changed in recent decades, describing neighbors who presume their “total security and comfort” and fill restaurants with overbearing noise “charged with social status.” Though he savored the “velvet drape of silence” that descended when these New People abandoned the city in March 2020, he also had to reckon with fear and isolation. “Buddy, if this goes on much longer,” a pizza vendor tells him, “you should buy a gun. We’re all gonna need guns.” Nevertheless, “the weird magic of pandemic time” allowed Moss to rediscover the “subterranean feeling” he used to experience in New York and to meet the “radicals, skateboarders, artists, and eccentrics” who stayed behind. Shot through with pinpoint character sketches, incisive reportage on the Occupy City Hall protest movement, and lucid discussions of queer theory, this is a vital contribution to New York City history. (Oct.)