A revelatory portrait of McCarthy-era Manhattan—back in print!
It is 1948 in Manhattan. Aspiring reporter Sylvia Golubowsky pays her dues in the steno pool at the tabloid New York Star, along with sixteen other girls whose eyes are on the back of the chair in front of them, the next step up the ladder. At the rival paper across town, gossip columnist Austin Van Cleeve rules New York and Washington with his venomous pen. In the Village, Columbia University graduate Cal Byfield is stuck flipping burgers to support his dream of a Negro theater on Broadway.
Against the backdrop of post–World War II New York City and under the growing shadow of the Red Scare, these three indelible characters collide with one another amidst the larger drama of the historical moment. In a fresh re-interpretation of the McCarthy era, Sarah Schulman reframes our understanding of the “blacklist” to show how racial and sexual discrimination create their own ongoing exclusions and how the politics of treachery affect the most intimate relationships.
First published in 1998, Shimmer draws parallels between the McCarthy era and contemporary American life and upends the tropes of film noir, pulp fiction, and set pieces of midcentury America by positioning a Black man and a queer Jewish woman as emblematic Americans. In a story set before the advent of the collective revolutionary movements of the 1960s, Cal and Sylvia learn the hard way that the American Dream was not available to them.
This new edition of Shimmer includes a postscript by the author.