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Beverly Gologorsky: What Does Poverty Feel Like?
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When you come from the South Bronx, you have the option of writing about different kinds of characters than those who so often inhabit the universe of fiction we’re used to. That was true of Beverly Gologorsky’s first novel, The Things We Do to Make It Home, which focused on the lost vets of the Vietnam era, their wives, and their children, all desperately trying to get by in a world that was anything but welcoming. It was no less true of the crew who worked in the roadside diner in her second novel, Stop Here, a kind of home away from home in an American world shadowed by war and financial disaster. And it’s even more powerfully so in her new novel, Every Body Has a Story, about two couples who barely made it out of South Bronx and into middle class homes when disaster struck and two administrations focused their attention on those who were “too big to fail,” rather than those who were too small not to be clobbered by the foreclosure crisis.

Today, not quite a decade later, we’re in an unparalleled new gilded age in which every advantage is offered to those — the 1% of the 1% — who are swallowing up American wealth, while a billionaire runs the country supported by an uber-rich cabinet (whose members don’t hesitate to suck government coffers dry for their own well-being). Meanwhile, the president’s family members rake in the dollars. In 2017, for instance, Ivanka pulled in $3.9 million just from her stake in Trump International Hotel, the family’s palace on Pennsylvania avenue that so many lobbyists and foreign diplomats now patronize to suck up to the president. This country has never seen anything like it or like the cruelty — from the U.S.-Mexico border to our inner cities — that’s now the order of the day when it comes to those too small not to fail. It’s the story from hell, even before the next too-big-to-fail moment hits and it’s a story that novelist Gologorsky knows from the bottom up.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Economics • Tags: Poverty 
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  1. I know what’s like to live in a car, wake up, crawl out and clean up and take a couple of steps to the carpet cleaning company, go to work, crawl back into my car drive to a fast food joint, drive back behind the shop, turn on the radio have my 0 or 10 pm meal, if i didn’t fall asleep before eating, slip into a sleeping bag and curl up tight to keep the cold out. I know what’s like to crawl out of my car in the rain, because the female cops, didn’t care about my pay stubs indicating I actually worked in the where my car was parked. I know what it’s like to have those same female cops demand I get on my knees in the pouring rain, if front of their head lights and get hauled in for vagrancy ——


    I know exactly what it tastes like, I have had a belly full.

  2. Jmaie says:

    I’ve never understood the depth of anger over the Trump hotel business. It seems so minor in the scheme of things – it’s not as if the place would be empty if not for the aforementioned lobbyists and foreign diplomats. If the hotels had been placed in a blind trust, the income would still be coming in. And if the Donald had gone complete divestiture, there’d have been a big cash payout and (forgive my cynicism) but I somehow think you’d bitch about that as well.

    There are so many better things to get mad about, and reflexively blowing a gasket over every little thing is pointless.

    And you’d be wrong about the country never seeing anything like it – FDR’s son and wife both made bank off the president’s name.

  3. unit472 says:

    Being poor has always sucked but the poor could at least have a home. Now we just allow millions of immigrants to pour into the nation with no thought as to housing them. We aren’t building much new housing and what is being built is not affordable for low income people. Thus the existing housing stock must accommodate not only our own poor but the millions of sawed off mestizos who also want to live in the United States.

  4. JackOH says:

    Ms. Gologorsky’s heart is in the right place to be sure, but I don’t think flailing at the demons all about us is very helpful. For example, I differentiate the deserving poor from the less deserving poor, and by “deserving”, I mean, of course, more deserving of better circumstances.

    I’ve written on these pages about well-educated folks, some of them with records of accomplishment, who live in poverty or near-poverty, and for whom poverty is a deeply soul-destroying experience. Other impoverished folks seem okay with a life of limited horizons, and their characters haven’t been rent by self-destructive behaviors. Others are completely gone in a world of drugs and booze, petty crime, casual violence, and promiscuous sex.

    I’m not being hard-hearted either, I don’t think. I’ve experienced serious life reversals that have put my income in the toilet twice. I’ve deeply resented being treated like–how to put this nicely?–poor white trash. I think Barbara Ehrenreich and others who work the poverty row genre do a disservice to reality by lumping the poor in one boat.

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