Dark Knowledge, the third title in my Metropolis series of novels set in nineteenth-century New York, was released by Anaphora Literary Press on January 5, 2018, making it available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Signed copies are available from the author. For more about this and other works of mine, see below following the post.
Before the 2016 election New York City developers and businesses proudly displayed the name TRUMP on the fronts of residential buildings and hotels, but ah, how times have changed! The condominium at 200 Riverside Boulevard bears on its façade, in large brasslike letters, the words TRUMP PLACE, and the residents aren't happy about it. The Tweeter-in-Chief's name has already been removed from three rental buildings on Riverside Boulevard, as well as hotels in SoHo and Toronto, but the case of 200 Riverside Boulevard is a bit more complicated. Trump bought the property in the 1980s, but subsequent business pressures forced him to sell it to some Hong Kong billionaires who, with his help, developed it. A four-page licensing agreement signed in 2000 described him as a "worldwide renowned builder and developer," but for the use of his name stated its value as one dollar in all. At the time, his name was not an issue.
|In the inaugural parade.|
With the 2016 election this changed. The Donald was elected, but in Manhattan he got only 64,929 votes, compared to 579,013 for the Hillary. An anonymous survey of residents at no. 200 by the condominium's board's residential committee showed that a majority favored removing the Trump name. This provoked a response from the Trump Organization that this would be a "flagrant and material breach of the license agreement." So of course the matter went to court. The residential committee has asked a New York State Supreme Court judge in Manhattan to declare that the condominium has the right to remove the name without violating the licensing agreement with DJT Holdings, a corporate entity owned by the Donald. Just when the ruling will come isn't clear, but among the condo residents, as well as interested observers, anticipation is keen. Manhattan is stuck with the Trump Tower smack in the middle of midtown, with consequent disruption of traffic; isn't that enough? Which leads us easily into a discussion of symbols of hate.
SYMBOLS OF HATE
|Lee in Charlottesville.|
For me this is a strain, since I grew up idolizing Lee and Jackson, much more colorful figures than the Union generals Grant and Sherman, who struck me as cold and ruthless – two qualities that helped them win the war. Needless to say, the issue of slavery rested lightly, if at all, on my juvenile psyche, which simply craved male heroes I could look up to. Davis, the president of the Confederacy, never much impressed me, least of all in comparison with his opposite, Abraham Lincoln, and Forrest, whose troops slaughtered black Union soldiers trying to surrender at Fort Pillow, appalled me when I learned of him later.
|Sims in Central Park.|
|There he is, way up there above the traffic.|
In effect, nothing. Roosevelt is a complicated figure, opines the commission, since he was both an environmentalist and a devotee of eugenics. True enough, but for some observers this amounts to a rank cop-out. Their criticism has some validity, but the hesitation to judge can also be defended. How are we to know if today’s mood will be that of tomorrow? Roosevelt was once hailed as a rough-riding hero and progressive, his trust-busting cheered, his imperialist views approved, and his racism either approved or at least tolerated. Tomorrow our readiness to condemn may look a bit hasty and one-sided; who is to say? So let the statue stand, but maybe with a plaque explaining why. Or remove it to the New York Historical Society or some other location, where it can be presented in a historical context, rather than as a glorification of the man and what he stood for.
If you love the city (or hate it), this may be the book for you. An award winner, it sold well at BookCon 2017.
"If you want wonderful inside tales about New York, this is the book for you. Cliff Browder has a way with his writing that makes the city I lived in for 40 plus years come alive in a new and delightful way. A refreshing view on NYC that will not disappoint." Five-star Amazon customer review by Bill L.
For readers who like historical fiction and a fast-moving story.
"A real yarn of a story about a lovable pickpocket who gets into trouble and has a great adventure. A must read." Five-star Amazon customer review by nicole w brown.
"This was a fun book. The main character seemed like a cross between Huck Finn and a Charles Dickens character. I would recommend this." Four-star LibraryThing review by stephvin.
"A lively and entertaining tale. The writing styles, plot, pace and character development were excellent." Four-star LibraryThing early review by BridgitDavis.
"I am glad that I have read this book as it goes into great detail and the presentation is amazing. The Author obviously knows his stuff." Four-star LibraryThing early review by Moiser20.
What was the gay scene like in nineteenth-century New York? Gay romance, if you like, but no porn (I don't do porn). Women have read it and reviewed it. (The cover illustration doesn't hurt.)
"At times amusing, gritty, heartfelt and a little sexy -- this would make a great summer read." Four-star Amazon customer review by BobW.
"Really more of a fantasy of a 19th century gay life than any kind of historical representation of the same." Three-star Goodreads review by Rachel.