If I had to place this book on a store’s shelves, I’m not sure where I’d put it. Is it Rhodes-Pitts memoir of her time living in Harlem? Is it a memoir of a place? Is it a book-length essay?
I’m not too concerned about genre and was generally willing to drift along with Rhodes-Pitts’ musings. But I wonder if she ever decided what kind of book she wanted to write. The book lacks focus.
Rhodes-Pitts also needs to hone her essay skills. The community is rich with anecdotes, history, politics, etc., and she seems to recognize the details that are worthy of mention. I often found myself wondering what a writer with a more precise and pointed style could have done with her notes.
The book certainly gave me a great deal to think about. Rhodes-Pitts is definitely an author to watch. I give her a great deal of credit for coming up with this idea. Apparently, it’s the first of a trilogy about places. I will look forward to the next two (Haiti, the American South).
Since I’ve read so much about Harlem, I’ve always wanted to visit. Rhodes-Pitts is a great tour guide, but I also feel (as a white person) like her books is as close as she thinks I should get.