Feral City: On Finding Liberation in Lockdown New York

Norton. Oct. 2022. 256p. ISBN 9780393868470. $27.95. SOC SCI
Moss’s (Vanishing New York) book is, in some ways, the autobiographical equivalent of the apocalyptic novels by N.  K. Jemison and Emily St. John Mandel. But with a strange, beautiful sense of hope and healing, made when a wrecked world requires all the resiliency people with nondominant gender and sexual identities quietly cultivated by necessity during the “before times.” Chapters evocative of now-too-familiar sentiments (“Emptiness Gives Permission,” “The Phase of Breaking,” and “I Would Prefer Not To”) lend the book on an almost universal feel made personal when Moss layers in descriptions of living in a New York experienced through peepholes and peripheries, a place where as a trans poet, he sought out anonymity, enclosure, and safety. That is, until lockdown turned the world of influencers upside down, and vacant spaces suddenly offered new protection. This is a brilliant story of being lost and finding a place when socially constructed ideas of how people can or should show up are dismantled. It also examines what happens when dominant culture attempts to reassert its so-called order.
VERDICT Highly recommended, not just for queer readers or scholars of LGBTQIA+ culture but for anyone who has felt inexorably gutted and remade during the COVID pandemic.
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