The Pills in the Fridge

Adam Mars-Jones

  • BuyChristodora by Tim Murphy
    Picador, 432 pp, £16.99, February, ISBN 978 1 5098 1857 0

The Christodora of Tim Murphy’s novel is a New York apartment building, ‘handsomely simple’, built on the corner of Avenue B and 9th Street in the 1920s. By the 1980s the area had become known as the East Village, and the building had come down in the world. After a fire it was refurbished and turned into a condominium, in which Steven Traum, an urban planner, bought an apartment, using it as office space while he continued to live on the Upper East Side. His son Jared, an art student specialising in industrial sculpture (the next Richard Serra, even), started to make it his home. Young Jared took pleasure in the neighbourhood, dirty and dangerous as it was, with homeless people and intravenous drug users camping out in Tompkins Square Park, and was surprised when a contingent of protesters trying to storm the Christodora during the riots of 1988 chanted ‘Die yuppie scum!’ as if the label included him, despite his protests (‘I support the homeless in the park!’). He didn’t work for a bank, he smoked dope, his hair was messy. Why couldn’t they see he was on their side?

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[*] Wojnarowicz’s memoir has been reissued by Canongate (304 pp., £10.99, March, 978 1 78689 027 6)