[bksvol-discuss] Wishlist

  • From: "Shelley L. Rhodes" <guidinggolden@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, <bookshare-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 11 Jan 2009 16:41:00 -0500

by Judith Matloff


After twenty years as a foreign correspondent in tumul-
tuous locales including Rwanda, Chechnya, and Sudan,
Judith Matloff is ready to put down roots and start a
family. She leaves Moscow and returns to her native New
York City to house-hunt for the perfect spot while her
Dutch husband, John, stays behind in Russia with their
dog to pack up their belongings. Intoxicated by West
Harlem's cultural diversity and, more important, its
affordability, Judith impulsively buys a stately fixer-
upper brownstone in the neighborhood.

Little does she know what's in store. Judith and John
discover that their dream house was once a crack den and
that "fixer upper" is an understatement. The building is
a total wreck: The beams have been chewed to dust by ter-
mites, the staircase is separating from the wall, and the
windows are smashed thanks to a recent break-in. Plus,
the house is on a block, crowded with throngs of brazen
drug dealers, that forms the bustling epicenter of the
cocaine trade in the Northeast, and heavily armed police
regularly appear outside Judith and John's door in pursuit
of the thugs and crackheads who loiter there.

Thus begins the couple's odyssey to win over the neigh-
bors, including Salami, the menacing addict who threatens
to take over their house; Mackenzie, the literary homeless
man who quotes Latin over morning coffee; Mrs. LaDuke, the
salty octogenarian neighborhood watchdog; and Miguel, the
smooth lieutenant of the local drug crew, with whom the
couple must negotiate safe passage. It's a far cry from
utopia, but it's a start, and "they" do all they can to
carve out a comfortable life. And by the time they  expe-
rience the birth of a son, Judith and John have even come
to appreciate the neighborhood's rough charms.

Shelley L. Rhodes, M.A., VRT
And Guinevere: Golden Lady Guide Dog
Guide Dogs for the Blind
Alumni Association

The people who burned witches at the stake never for one moment thought of their act as violence;
rather they thought of it as an act of divinely mandated righteousness.
The same can be said of most of the violence we humans have ever committed. -Gil Bailie, author and lecturer (b. 1944)

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