"Great for fans of John Strausbaugh's
The Village, Jeff Kisseloff's You Must Remember This."—BookLife Reviews
A Booklife Reviews Editor's Pick!
Minichiello compiles a celebratory collection of ninety short interviews, originally published in the neighborhood paper West View News between 2008 and 2020, conducted with the lively personalities ofNewYork City's bohemian West Village, which has "nurtured generations of artists and activists." People featured, many of whom have been part of the community for decades, range from internationally known figures like Calvin Trillin and Mimi Sheraton to more local influencers like Ralph Lee, founder of the storied Village Halloween Parade. These profiles evoke deep feeling-including nostalgia-for a connected and vibrant community equal parts cozy and wild.
Though the flow of Minichiello's interviews is somewhat formulaic—a bit about the interviewee's childhood, their arrival to the West Village, and their professional and personal experiences in the neighborhood—he lets each subject's spirit shine through. Crucial themes tie together multiple pieces, such as frustration with the gentrification that has led to some interviewees losing their homes, but the overall mood stays upbeat. Including activists and business owners illuminates the heart of the community.
Each piece packs a strong punch in about 800 words, and Minichiello's consistent style facilitates a clean, compact layout, enhanced by photo portraits of each subject. This volume makes an attractive coffee table read, ready to be browsed or searched for a favorite's story.
"Lovers of New York history will find inspiration and insight in these profiles of West Village residents!"
Booklife Reviews, December 21, 2021
From Kirkus Reviews
A compilation of interviews with accomplished residents of New York City’s West Village.
Minichiello, a reporter for Westview News (the West Village’s local paper), has compiled his first book from two decades’ worth of interviews with neighborhood residents who are prominent in a variety of fields, including business, community activism, and the arts. The youngest interviewees are from Generation X, although the majority are older. They include some well-known names, such as authors Barbara Garson, Calvin Trillin, and Susan Brownmiller, but even those who are less celebrated have achieved things worth knowing.
The interviews, with minor variations, follow a clear format, beginning with a short autobiography that includes a survey of the interviewee’s career and how they came to the Village. Almost all end with the person’s assessment of the Village today compared to times past. A very few of them, such as painter Marjorie Colt, have left the Village and speak about that. When comparing the Village of the past with that of the present, most agree that the neighborhood residents are wealthier than they used to be and that the Village is no longer a haven for the struggling and creative—the very environment that brought many of the interviewees there.
Overall, they see this gentrification as a mixed blessing, but they differ as to whether the arrival of high-end retail has stripped the Village of its character. More controversially, some talk about how the Village’s gay identity was clearer in the past in a variety of ways—a subject addressed by several LGBTQ+ interviewees, including Richard Eric Weigle, longtime president of the Grove Street Block Association, who says, “When I moved here [in 1973] it was 80% gay and now [in 2017] it’s 80% straight.” The interviews also raise the question of whether the Village can ever return to being the affordable place for the creative that it once was—and a couple believe so. In any case, the stories of these “West Village Originals” may make many others wish they could live and create in the Village, as well.
"A delightful group portrait of the West Village as it has been and can be!"
Kirkus Reviews, November 2021