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Gentrifier: A Memoir

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Taking on the thorny ethics of owning and selling property as a white woman in a majority Black city and a majority Bangladeshi neighborhood with both intelligence and humor, this memoir brings a new perspective to a Detroit that finds itself perpetually on the brink of revitalization. In 2016, a Detroit arts organization grants writer and artist Anne Elizabeth Moore a Taking on the thorny ethics of owning and selling property as a white woman in a majority Black city and a majority Bangladeshi neighborhood with both intelligence and humor, this memoir brings a new perspective to a Detroit that finds itself perpetually on the brink of revitalization. In 2016, a Detroit arts organization grants writer and artist Anne Elizabeth Moore a free house--a room of her own, à la Virginia Woolf--in Detroit's majority-Bangladeshi "Banglatown." Accompanied by her cats, Moore moves to the bungalow in her new city where she gardens, befriends the neighborhood youth, and grows to intimately understand civic collapse and community solidarity. When the troubled history of her prize house comes to light, Moore finds her life destabilized by the aftershocks of the housing crisis and governmental corruption. This is also a memoir of art, gender, work, and survival. Moore writes into the gaps of Woolf's declaration that "a woman must have money and a room of one's own if she is to write"; what if this woman were queer and living with chronic illness, as Moore is, or a South Asian immigrant, like Moore's neighbors? And what if her primary coping mechanism was jokes? Part investigation, part comedy of a vexing city, and part love letter to girlhood, Gentrifier examines capitalism, property ownership, and whiteness, asking if we can ever really win when violence and profit are inextricably linked with victory.


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Taking on the thorny ethics of owning and selling property as a white woman in a majority Black city and a majority Bangladeshi neighborhood with both intelligence and humor, this memoir brings a new perspective to a Detroit that finds itself perpetually on the brink of revitalization. In 2016, a Detroit arts organization grants writer and artist Anne Elizabeth Moore a Taking on the thorny ethics of owning and selling property as a white woman in a majority Black city and a majority Bangladeshi neighborhood with both intelligence and humor, this memoir brings a new perspective to a Detroit that finds itself perpetually on the brink of revitalization. In 2016, a Detroit arts organization grants writer and artist Anne Elizabeth Moore a free house--a room of her own, à la Virginia Woolf--in Detroit's majority-Bangladeshi "Banglatown." Accompanied by her cats, Moore moves to the bungalow in her new city where she gardens, befriends the neighborhood youth, and grows to intimately understand civic collapse and community solidarity. When the troubled history of her prize house comes to light, Moore finds her life destabilized by the aftershocks of the housing crisis and governmental corruption. This is also a memoir of art, gender, work, and survival. Moore writes into the gaps of Woolf's declaration that "a woman must have money and a room of one's own if she is to write"; what if this woman were queer and living with chronic illness, as Moore is, or a South Asian immigrant, like Moore's neighbors? And what if her primary coping mechanism was jokes? Part investigation, part comedy of a vexing city, and part love letter to girlhood, Gentrifier examines capitalism, property ownership, and whiteness, asking if we can ever really win when violence and profit are inextricably linked with victory.

30 review for Gentrifier: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    3.5 stars In 2016, a Detroit arts organization creates an innovating program: a writer-in-residence program … except after two years, the writer becomes the legal homeowner. The only stipulation is that in the those two years, the writer must live in the home 75% of the time and be willing to engage with the city’s literary community and be flexible with press/promotion. For Anne Elizabeth Moore, the program is an experiment but also an incredible opportunity to become a homeowner as a person limi 3.5 stars In 2016, a Detroit arts organization creates an innovating program: a writer-in-residence program … except after two years, the writer becomes the legal homeowner. The only stipulation is that in the those two years, the writer must live in the home 75% of the time and be willing to engage with the city’s literary community and be flexible with press/promotion. For Anne Elizabeth Moore, the program is an experiment but also an incredible opportunity to become a homeowner as a person limited by income and health conditions. While this program seemed straightforward, it instead highlighted many unbelievable issues unresolved by Detroit and used to their advantage. In the end, Moore’s free home ended up putting her $30,000 in debt (the program failed to mention the house barely met code and needed a new roof), and taking years to sell because the deed was actually in someone else’s name who she was unable to track down. While researching for her book, the author discovered her home had previously been illegally seized and sold for a profit. In fact, because of Detroit’s notoriously high property taxes and the shortfall created with population decline, the city illegally seized and sold hundreds of properties for a stunning profit to offset the loss. An interesting story of Detroit, the home Moore was “given”, and the community she became part of. For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Houses in Detroit were being given away to writers! I remember the articles in the Detroit Free Press. On the surface, Write a House sounded like a great idea. All those empty houses in the city, why not? “It’s like a writer-in-residence program…only in this case we’re actually giving the writer the residence, forever,” an article in Publisher’s Weekly noted. The writers were given two years rent-free then handed the deed. All they had to do was to “engage with the literary community of Detroit, Houses in Detroit were being given away to writers! I remember the articles in the Detroit Free Press. On the surface, Write a House sounded like a great idea. All those empty houses in the city, why not? “It’s like a writer-in-residence program…only in this case we’re actually giving the writer the residence, forever,” an article in Publisher’s Weekly noted. The writers were given two years rent-free then handed the deed. All they had to do was to “engage with the literary community of Detroit,” live in the house 75% of the time, and pay insurance and taxes. For Anne Elizabeth Moore, it meant a place of her own where she could settle down after years of traveling across the world. But the reality fell short of the ideal. Out of her experience arose a book about her experience winning a house, adapting to Banglatown, discovering Detroit’s ‘come back’ was more hype than truth, and how the city balances their budget by selling the homes of people who owed back taxes. It is not a pretty story, and yet Moore’s stories spurred plenty of laughs and included some heart-warming scenes. The memoir is episodic, but I liked the mix. Light hearted stories about her cats and the hospitality of her Bengali neighbors intersperse the more serious and disturbing narratives. My favorite scenes were Moore’s interactions with the girls who lived across the street. The girls gave her insight into their lives as Moore expanded their understanding of the world. Home ownership is costly. Moore’s ‘free house’ put her nearly $30,000 in debt, and when she decided to sell discovered the name on the deed was not her own. I had read others on the Detroit foreclosure crisis, how occupied homes are ceased for back taxes, sometimes over a few hundred dollars, then sold at auction, and then resold again. Everyone making a profit off of another’s catastrophe, forcing people out of their family homes….and homeless. “Michigan is one of only twelve states that allows counties to profit from the sale of property seized in tax foreclosures,” Moore states. And, Detroit has one of the highest property tax rates in America. Of course, the population decline and resulting empty lots means lower income from property taxes, and the city had to raise the funds somehow….hence, selling off seized properties for a profit. She shares the hard numbers: a $22.5 million budget shortfall in 2014 was offset by the seizure and sale of homes! Moore discovered that her house had been illegally seized and sold for a profit. Moore loved her neighbors, but she did not love Detroit. It is not a positive portrait of the city. One that is, in some ways, well deserved.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lane

    Did not go deep enough. Her truthout cartoons on the foreclosure, blight and water crisis in Detroit are great. Unfortunately she didn't apply her own reporting rigor to her own life. Her bemoaning of Detroiters aversion to reading is particularly cringe. Did not go deep enough. Her truthout cartoons on the foreclosure, blight and water crisis in Detroit are great. Unfortunately she didn't apply her own reporting rigor to her own life. Her bemoaning of Detroiters aversion to reading is particularly cringe.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This book stood out to me because I haven’t seen many memoirs written about the feelings and emotions that come along with playing a part in gentrification. Moore is a white, female, writer who was gifted a house in Detroit by an association “giving away free houses” to authors who needed a good place to live especially while they worked on their writing. She tells about her experience in this process more through moments and less of a timeline which I enjoyed. She focused on facts as much as sh This book stood out to me because I haven’t seen many memoirs written about the feelings and emotions that come along with playing a part in gentrification. Moore is a white, female, writer who was gifted a house in Detroit by an association “giving away free houses” to authors who needed a good place to live especially while they worked on their writing. She tells about her experience in this process more through moments and less of a timeline which I enjoyed. She focused on facts as much as she focused on feelings and I think this really kept me interested in this story. She was good at recognizing that things, people, and actions can be good and bad at the same time which I think is super genuine. My favorite part was hearing about the conversations she would have with her neighbors and how these interactions Turned into full blown relationships.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    One of the best types of books is the kind you read really quickly and then tell yourself that you need to re-read it, this time slowly. The book is hilarious and told in short vignettes, which makes it an easy read, but there is so much in it - gentrification of course, housing policy, racism, immigration, the concept of work. I had not heard of this author before and want to go look up her other books.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Lindsay

    A timely and gorgeous exploration of home, culture, community, immigration, and so much more in this memoir of art, gender, work, and survival. Looking for your next great read? How about author interviews, discussion questions, insights, writing prompts/inspiration, book lists, and more? Join me every week at www.leslielindsay.com|Always with a Book I admit to falling in love with this book based on the eye-catching cover, the title alone, and of course, the fact that it is about a writer in a A timely and gorgeous exploration of home, culture, community, immigration, and so much more in this memoir of art, gender, work, and survival. Looking for your next great read? How about author interviews, discussion questions, insights, writing prompts/inspiration, book lists, and more? Join me every week at www.leslielindsay.com|Always with a Book I admit to falling in love with this book based on the eye-catching cover, the title alone, and of course, the fact that it is about a writer in a house. I mean, it hits on so many of my passions. But the love for this book isn't just superficial. I truly loved the story. GENTRIFIER: A Memoir by Anne Elizabeth Moore (Catapult, October 19 2021) is about a queer woman writer who is 'gifted' a house. The catch: you must live in Detroit for two years. And one might wonder: what's wrong with Detroit? Growing up in St. Louis, I had a friend move away to the suburbs of Detroit. It wasn't a big deal. But it was the *suburbs.* And the qualifier: 'when I was growing up,' [read: a long time ago]. It's true, at it's height, Detroit, like St. Louis, even, was once a very hoppin' cool place. Factories were pumping out cars. It was lively and a vital to our economy. And then...what happened? I'm not exactly sure. Jobs were moved overseas because labor was cheaper. Company housing was boarded. Factories shuttered. Schools became derelict. The population grew more illiterate. It became less diversified. Then the housing crisis of 2008 and more recently, the coronavirus pandemic. GENTRIFIER isn't *just* about that. It's about one writer woman's connection to the house, the community, her work, and also briefly, her autoimmune disease and her cats. It is written in a spry, darkly humorous investigation, recollecting conversations and tidbits of her time at the Detroit house. GENTRIFIER is a quick read, but it's one of those books you might fly through initially, but hang on to it, because you'll want to go back and savor. The book is divided into sections: The House, The Neighborhood, The City, The Work...and so forth, and each section is anchored by a Virginia Woolf quote, which I quite enjoyed, having not really committed any of them to memory, other than the one about a woman who wants to write must have a room of her own. Sections are short and snappy and do not flow in a chronological manner but sort of spiral and circle back. I personally really like this style, it helps me see the bigger picture and piece together themes and motifs, but that's just the kind of reader/writer I tend to be. Not everyone will appreciate this. My favorite pieces of the story are those involving the conversations the author had with her neighbors and how those neighbors offered deep insights from unique vantage points (almost all were Bangladeshi/women). But things do end with a bit of a twist and that became a bit of the investigative piece I am alluding to, but also, maybe the investigation was more personal and rooted in art. I was reminded, in part, of the memoir, TENEMENTAL by Vikki Warner meets Erica Bauermeister's HOUSE LESSONS. For all my reviews, including author interviews, please see: www.leslielindsay.com|Always with a Book. Special thanks to the author and publisher for this review copy. All thoughts are my own.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Gentrifier - The title intrigued me. As a white woman who has spent the past ~15 years moving around the US, almost always living in gentrifying neighborhoods - I felt compelled to read this memoir. The author is given a free home in Detroit as part of a program for artists. The story details the varied (positive & negative) experiences she has when moving into a home in a primarily Bengali neighborhood during an extremely dark time in Detroit's history. Some include: dealing with utterly failing Gentrifier - The title intrigued me. As a white woman who has spent the past ~15 years moving around the US, almost always living in gentrifying neighborhoods - I felt compelled to read this memoir. The author is given a free home in Detroit as part of a program for artists. The story details the varied (positive & negative) experiences she has when moving into a home in a primarily Bengali neighborhood during an extremely dark time in Detroit's history. Some include: dealing with utterly failing government unable to provide even basic services to its residents (utilities, schools, legal support, etc) to racism within her new community, to various gender stereotypes and even the restrictions put on her as the winner of this free home. I found the story itself interesting - however I personally found the writing hard to follow. It is written in short bits and jumps around various topics and timelines. Almost as if it is a journal of scattered thoughts. Some may find this appealing/endearing - however for me it was difficult to follow. Overall I would recommend this as a read to those that want to learn a bit more about an immigrant communities perspectives as well as what it was like to live in Detroit during its darkest days. Thank you to NetGalley & the publisher for my gifted advance copy..

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ursula

    This memoir was informative, particularly in terms of Detroit’s history and current politics. For that reason, I’m glad I read it. Details about the Bengali community in the area were also interesting. What I don’t understand is why this book was written in present tense. Even historical events dating back to Henry Ford were written in present tense. I appreciated that the narrator was aware of how her presence might have been perceived in a community of color. Her bemoaning the lack of an arts This memoir was informative, particularly in terms of Detroit’s history and current politics. For that reason, I’m glad I read it. Details about the Bengali community in the area were also interesting. What I don’t understand is why this book was written in present tense. Even historical events dating back to Henry Ford were written in present tense. I appreciated that the narrator was aware of how her presence might have been perceived in a community of color. Her bemoaning the lack of an arts scene in the area felt tone deaf, though. At some points in the book, she seems to acknowledge that. Other times not so much.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Larissa Goalder

    this book was sooooo interesting, well written, and thought provoking! I vaguely remember hearing about free houses in Detroit but didn't know anything else about that program or actually Detroit. I loved the writing style; the way everything would loop together instead of being written linearly. I personally like that style of writing and loved the short vignettes. My favorite parts where about the teen girls she met and watching them grow up with her. I liked Moore's realization she is part of this book was sooooo interesting, well written, and thought provoking! I vaguely remember hearing about free houses in Detroit but didn't know anything else about that program or actually Detroit. I loved the writing style; the way everything would loop together instead of being written linearly. I personally like that style of writing and loved the short vignettes. My favorite parts where about the teen girls she met and watching them grow up with her. I liked Moore's realization she is part of the problem of gentrification and where she went from there and I loved the ending.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    I learned so much! Also, I kept wondering how the author would end this book, and it ended beautifully, powerfully. Well done.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Carlson

    **This book was provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.** A highly engaging and readable memoir. Told in short, digestible vignettes, Gentrifier recounts the experience of the author after being “gifted” a “free” house in an underserved neighborhood in Detroit. Both Moore’s personal experience and the history of the house itself turn out to be more complicated, particularly within the broader American and Detroit-centric history of race, class, and **This book was provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.** A highly engaging and readable memoir. Told in short, digestible vignettes, Gentrifier recounts the experience of the author after being “gifted” a “free” house in an underserved neighborhood in Detroit. Both Moore’s personal experience and the history of the house itself turn out to be more complicated, particularly within the broader American and Detroit-centric history of race, class, and power, than initially meets the eye. What I particularly like about the memoir is that it knows when to pull back. My favorite vignettes concern the children in Moore’s neighborhood, particularly Nishat and Sadia, and the friendship Moore forms with them. A lesser writer would take this opportunity to reflect upon her own contributions to the girls’ lives; instead, Moore lets the girls speak through their own words and actions, and does away with any self-indulgent or self-centering reflection. She peppers in historical data when necessary, but this book isn’t a history of redlining or immigration or gentrification on a large scale—merely one woman’s, and “her” house’s, rather conflicted roles within it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nell

    This memoir introduces Moore, an accomplished journalist and writer, as she wins a free house in Detroit. As a writer, Moore is delighted for the chance of owning her own home, something she likely couldn't do with her income; she just has to live in Detroit for two years and it's hers. What could go wrong? Writing this memoir is Moore's attempt to salvage what becomes an isolating and unsettling experience for her. There are moments of beauty and joy as she befriends her neighbors, Bangladeshi This memoir introduces Moore, an accomplished journalist and writer, as she wins a free house in Detroit. As a writer, Moore is delighted for the chance of owning her own home, something she likely couldn't do with her income; she just has to live in Detroit for two years and it's hers. What could go wrong? Writing this memoir is Moore's attempt to salvage what becomes an isolating and unsettling experience for her. There are moments of beauty and joy as she befriends her neighbors, Bangladeshi immigrants; they invite her into their homes and their lives, and she realizes that community is who shows up for you. The city might struggle to support its citizens, but her neighbors come together to turn empty lots into badminton courts, to celebrate Eid, to share unused goods in another lot. When the water turns off, Moore can count on her neighbors to share theirs; when the internet goes out, she has people to turn to, to complain with. Despite their warm welcome, Moore feels alone. Her whole life revolves around writing and reading, but her classes are criticized for encouraging students to think critically, her library is never open, her bookstore won't sell her books, no one will attend her zine-making workshops, and she can't even buy bookshelves for her books. Eventually the internet completely shuts down and she can't work. She can't find anyone to date, and is constantly harassed by men she doesn't know. The prize needs her to stay in Detroit for at least 70% of the two years, which means she can't leave to earn money or see her friends. One of her beloved cats dies. Towards the end of her time in Detroit, she decides to stay and buy the house, but learns that it was actually seized from a previous owner. In perhaps the most compelling section of the book, Moore describes how the local government relies on wildly inflated property taxes to seize homes, making money off of the foreclosures by selling them to new and often predatory owners. During the pandemic, Detroit used money that should have helped struggling homeowners and used it instead to knock down recently seized houses (that people only recently left). The city claims that knocking down these homes prevents "blight" -- that by knocking down unwanted homes, it will bring more people to the neighborhood -- but really the government is cruelly evicting low-income residents who want to stay, destroying the tenuous community that was there, and earning a fortune in the process. Moore decides to leave Detroit. After spending $20k to fix what was not actually her house, but becomes her house through a challenging legal process, she decides to sell it to a Bangladeshi family. She gets a full-time job in another city. End of book. I really enjoyed this book; I liked how Moore structured it, in short, charming reflections on her life, interspersed with more serious tidbits. I often laughed at the small details she shared, and cried at her cat funeral. She made her neighborhood come to life, populating her world with her neighbors and her cats. I would have liked if the story proceeded in chronological order -- it jumps around, confusingly, in my opinion. I think my biggest criticism of this book is that it tried to be a memoir with a chapter on government incompetence & greed stuck at the end. Both parts were amazing, but I don't know if Moore did a great job of linking them, especially since the book opens with this declaration of how it will examine the terrible burden of the house. It felt like she lived her life, was really lonely, then wanted to buy the house, and suddenly realized she was somewhat culpable in the wild government mismanagement. Throughout the book she reflects on the role that her race, class, and disability status play in her experience, but I felt like she kind of let herself off the hook for her role in this process. Essentially she wants to buy the house after two years, having spent a lot of money fixing the roof, then realizes that someone else had to be evicted for the government to give it to her. She seems to try half-heartedly to find this person, and ends up transferring the title to her name, then giving up on living in Detroit and reselling it for less money to the Bangladeshi family. Each decision is fraught, which I understand, but I wish that she'd tried harder to find the former owner. I also felt like her decision to leave was not adequately explored, nor did she reflect on her connections with her neighbors. After 3/4 of the book describing her relationship with these families, she suddenly uproots in a few months, with apparently little consequence. These decisions clearly reflect her own privilege, her values, and how they are interacting with those of the city; but all of this is mysteriously not explored. Was she about to miss her deadline? Did she just give up on Detroit? I wanted Moore to not just gesture at all of this wreckage, but go deeper in exploring it, to make clear what her thoughts were on her own role, to say goodbye to her neighbors, to Detroit, to whatever she left behind in the process.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bradley Metlin

    ”It can be a nightmare to be publicly awarded a free house.” Anne Elizabeth Moore’s memoir begins with a fascinating premise but fails to realize all the themes she introduces. Told in a series of non-chronological vignettes, Moore introduces us to herself, her Bengali neighborhood, and the city of Detroit. It’s a quick read that contains many funny, warm moments. Yet, the non-linear plot can be frustrating; moments that appear later in the book link back to old ones that would have been more sa ”It can be a nightmare to be publicly awarded a free house.” Anne Elizabeth Moore’s memoir begins with a fascinating premise but fails to realize all the themes she introduces. Told in a series of non-chronological vignettes, Moore introduces us to herself, her Bengali neighborhood, and the city of Detroit. It’s a quick read that contains many funny, warm moments. Yet, the non-linear plot can be frustrating; moments that appear later in the book link back to old ones that would have been more satisfying if they appeared in order. I also enjoyed the later sections when Moore really chews into the incompetence of the local Detroit government and the shameful system they use to foreclose homes on innocent residents. These moments appear throughout the book and are also among her sharpest. But I’m let down most on the promise that this book would be about gentrification. Moore does not prove to be a “gentrifier” — if anything the neighborhood starts on that path after she leaves. While there were insights and relationships she built with her Bengali neighbours that were joyful and heartwarming, there were also equally many paragraphs spent being judgemental about how others in Detroit live. (Including frequent reminders about the lack of reading among the residents which were… cringey). Gentrifier was a mixed bag; a quick read with witty moments that I enjoyed and insights about how institutions entrench poverty — but with a tone that was, at times, eye-roll inducing and a structure that could be clearer.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    I've been a fan of Anne Elizabeth Moore's writing for several years now, but that didn't prepare me for how much I enjoyed this book. I couldn't put it down. The vignettes structure of the memoir felt like reading postcards or short letters from Anne - "Hi! you wouldn't believe the crazy thing that happened this week...". I found myself relating quite a bit to the pieces regarding alienation, displacement and what truly makes a place 'home'. Having recently relocated to a new city at a certain st I've been a fan of Anne Elizabeth Moore's writing for several years now, but that didn't prepare me for how much I enjoyed this book. I couldn't put it down. The vignettes structure of the memoir felt like reading postcards or short letters from Anne - "Hi! you wouldn't believe the crazy thing that happened this week...". I found myself relating quite a bit to the pieces regarding alienation, displacement and what truly makes a place 'home'. Having recently relocated to a new city at a certain stage in life, I took comfort in the fact how she gave contours and definition to the myriad and at times, conflicting emotions I feel about what makes a place home or a community. Lastly, her statistical indictment of the injustices that so many Detroiters face on a daily basis, illuminating a struggle for survival for the residents that totally flips the narrative of detroit as this comeback city, when in fact it is engaging in a sort of civic strangulation of its residents' basic human rights - clean water, reliable municipal services and most importantly and devastatingly, an education - as Moore points out that nearly 1/2 of Detroiters are functionally illiterate.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Janilyn Kocher

    Detroit, Michigan has fallen on hard times in the 21st century. The Motor City had a plethora of decrepit houses they were trying to rehab and then “give” away. Moore applied for one of those free houses and lived in it for two years. Those experiences are the basis for her her book. Of course, nothin this ever free as she finds out and chapters are devoted to her legal battles to gain title to the house. The parts I was most interested in were her neighbors. A delightful cast of characters made Detroit, Michigan has fallen on hard times in the 21st century. The Motor City had a plethora of decrepit houses they were trying to rehab and then “give” away. Moore applied for one of those free houses and lived in it for two years. Those experiences are the basis for her her book. Of course, nothin this ever free as she finds out and chapters are devoted to her legal battles to gain title to the house. The parts I was most interested in were her neighbors. A delightful cast of characters made the book come alive. It’s an interesting story of urban renewal and hope for a once declining area. Thanks to Catapult and NetGalley for the early read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This was sort of written like a stream of consciousness. One paragraph would be about cleaning out the backyard of mulberry trees and the next about shopping for groceries and men asking her out. It doesn't sound that bad when I write it but it was oftentimes so jarring that I kept thinking I skipped a page. Interestingly, the only people in the neighborhood she mentions by name, and those she seems to be the closest to, are the children. Some teens, some younger. All the parents are referred to This was sort of written like a stream of consciousness. One paragraph would be about cleaning out the backyard of mulberry trees and the next about shopping for groceries and men asking her out. It doesn't sound that bad when I write it but it was oftentimes so jarring that I kept thinking I skipped a page. Interestingly, the only people in the neighborhood she mentions by name, and those she seems to be the closest to, are the children. Some teens, some younger. All the parents are referred to as "Sadia's" mother, etc. The neighbors seemed like the most interesting part of the entire story and i would have liked to learn more about them and less about the author's autoimmune disorders.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dave Hogg

    Brilliant and painful For someone who only lived in Detroit for a couple years, Anne has done an amazing of capturing the real Detroit. It isn't the hellhole of ruin porn and it isn't the Great American Renaissance. It is a place that needs to be treated as Anne treats it. I'm glad she lived in Detroit. I'm glad she doesn't have to live here anymore. Brilliant and painful For someone who only lived in Detroit for a couple years, Anne has done an amazing of capturing the real Detroit. It isn't the hellhole of ruin porn and it isn't the Great American Renaissance. It is a place that needs to be treated as Anne treats it. I'm glad she lived in Detroit. I'm glad she doesn't have to live here anymore.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Provocative memoir that describes the author’s cultural positioning and complicity in gentrification (among other things) in very genuine reflective vignettes. At first the short pieces seemed choppy/disjointed, but became more conversational as I got used to Moore’s writing style. Really compelling telling of a complicated story!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Very interesting, unusual memoir. I learned a lot about Detroit and its problems and unfair housing practices, but I also found some of the anecdotes extremely funny.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    A stream of consciousness regarding the author’s emotional experience interwoven with statistics and research. While sometimes I cringed at some of the author’s decisions and statements, I appreciated the honesty. As someone who grew up very close to Detroit without any knowledge of some of the things happening there, this book has piqued my interest (and outrage) in learning how a city becomes something like Detroit.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Christa Van

    Virginia Woolf knew that to write, you need a space. Anne Elizabeth Moore accepts a space in the form of a house in Detroit that is given to her. The organization has good intentions of giving houses to writers. Moore befriends her mostly Bengali neighbors and starts a garden. She does research on the problems in Detroit with housing and neglect. She ends up spending quite a bit of money on her free house teaching us to be wary of accepting "free" things. Very interesting stuff. Virginia Woolf knew that to write, you need a space. Anne Elizabeth Moore accepts a space in the form of a house in Detroit that is given to her. The organization has good intentions of giving houses to writers. Moore befriends her mostly Bengali neighbors and starts a garden. She does research on the problems in Detroit with housing and neglect. She ends up spending quite a bit of money on her free house teaching us to be wary of accepting "free" things. Very interesting stuff.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Boon

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A great meditation on community, home, and place by Anne Moore. Tackles the complicated threads behind "winning" a fixed up house in Detroit and the responsibilities engendered by that "win," with the strangeness of being set down in the middle of a primarily southeast Asian community. Written in fragments, Moore's story shows that being given a house never happens without many strings attached. A great meditation on community, home, and place by Anne Moore. Tackles the complicated threads behind "winning" a fixed up house in Detroit and the responsibilities engendered by that "win," with the strangeness of being set down in the middle of a primarily southeast Asian community. Written in fragments, Moore's story shows that being given a house never happens without many strings attached.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Trudy

    Anyone who has ever lived in Detroit, or are thinking of moving there should read this book! It is well worth your time. Be aware, though, it will be an eye-opening experience, and could be depressing if Detroit was once your home. I'd advise having the most cheerful book you can find lined up to clear your mental palate afterward. It's a memoir by a writer from Chicago and points west who was given the house by a program to support struggling authors by giving them a free place to work. Unfortu Anyone who has ever lived in Detroit, or are thinking of moving there should read this book! It is well worth your time. Be aware, though, it will be an eye-opening experience, and could be depressing if Detroit was once your home. I'd advise having the most cheerful book you can find lined up to clear your mental palate afterward. It's a memoir by a writer from Chicago and points west who was given the house by a program to support struggling authors by giving them a free place to work. Unfortunately, neither the program nor the house were all they were advertised to be. The author was fortunate to land in an East side Bengali community, where her neighbors welcomed her, and did what they could to help her make the best of a bad situation. I'm a former Detroiter. My husband and I were both born there. Our family left Northwest Detroit in 1986 for Arizona. Though we hear some things from friends who either stayed in the city itself or only went as far as the suburbs, I had no idea it had gotten as bad as it is. While I don't necessarily agree with all of the author's political views, I can see Ms. Moore did her best to draw a clear picture and avoid exaggeration. I'm not sure I could be as evenhanded about my own experience of living in the city. NOTE: Unless you bought the book from Amazon, you won't be allowed to review it there. Here's what they say: "Amazon has noticed unusual reviewing activity on this product. Due to this activity, we have limited this product to verified purchase reviews."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    An interesting reflection on the writer’s experience with being awarded a ‘free’ house in Detroit.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Keva

    Sign me up to read everything that Anne Elizabeth Moore has written! I found this body of work so incredibly easy to read, but full of hard to accept aspects of privilege. Found it to be an incredible follow up to Wayward by Dana Spiotta.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elly Kushner

    A good blend of personal and research that kept things interesting and the housing policy stuff was pretty accessible and just beautifully written throughout.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Queer White Woman Writer. Detroit. Gentrification.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jo Anne

    Writer and activist Anne Elizabeth Moore is offered a free house in Detroit and finds out that you get what you pay for. The book is a short read, in small paragraphs under headings such as THE HOUSE, THE NEIGHBORHOOD, THE DATE. Each chapter starts with a quote from Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own. I liked this book and the author. Considering what the bureaucrats of Detroit did to her (and the other people of Detroit) this book could have been vicious, but she was kind. It's sad to see how te Writer and activist Anne Elizabeth Moore is offered a free house in Detroit and finds out that you get what you pay for. The book is a short read, in small paragraphs under headings such as THE HOUSE, THE NEIGHBORHOOD, THE DATE. Each chapter starts with a quote from Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own. I liked this book and the author. Considering what the bureaucrats of Detroit did to her (and the other people of Detroit) this book could have been vicious, but she was kind. It's sad to see how terrible the city of Detroit is, still, and it makes me wonder, yet again, how this could happen in America? But enough of that. Moore gets a house in the middle of Detroit's Bengali neighborhood. She makes friends and learns a lot about the people and I'm almost jealous of her living in the middle of a different culture. I say almost because the house is crappy and the city does nothing to help her when she gets a high water bill and the roof falls apart. I think she handles it better than I would. I will definitely read more of her work.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Highly recommend especially for those of us living near Detroit.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    This was a five star book for me. But I’m going to be honest: I am really sick of authors using the deaths or suffering of cats as devices in their novels and memoirs. First, it doesn’t add anything to the book. It doesn’t. Second, it’s upsetting to people. It one of my biggest triggers when reading books or watching movies/tv. Never has a cat’s death or detailed demise actually mattered in the context of the show/movie/book. And I’ve seen/read plenty. And it was brought up more than once in GEN This was a five star book for me. But I’m going to be honest: I am really sick of authors using the deaths or suffering of cats as devices in their novels and memoirs. First, it doesn’t add anything to the book. It doesn’t. Second, it’s upsetting to people. It one of my biggest triggers when reading books or watching movies/tv. Never has a cat’s death or detailed demise actually mattered in the context of the show/movie/book. And I’ve seen/read plenty. And it was brought up more than once in GENTRIFIER. It was unnecessary and ruined the overall reading experience for me. Because the book was great. I liked Anne’s insights and experiences. Her writing is blunt and to the point. The entire memoir is broken up into section and then written in small vignettes. It’s a quick read but packed with information and things I would never had thought of in conjunction with Detroit historically and contemporarily. It was fascinating and funny and eye opening.

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