It’s 1990, and New York City is in shambles: unemployment reigns, crack wars rage, and whole neighborhoods burn as delinquent landlords cash in. Struggling to come to terms with his father’s death, paramedic and photographer Frank Verbeckas descends into the chaos and misery of upper Manhattan, taking photographs of the ill, the wounded, the dying, and the down-and-out. Accompanying him on his wanderings are his loudmouthed partner, Burnett; his best friend, Hock, who boosts drugs from the hospital; and his brother, Norman, a surgeon who can’t understand why Frank is in such pain. Frank’s ruin seems inevitable, but when he meets Emily, a professional fencer whose days are numbered by a fatal illness, his world changes. Against everyone’s advice, Frank and Emily fall in love. Together, they try to find a way out of the murk of guilt and sadness and learn to draw meaning and beauty from despair.
In short, cinematic scenes, with not a word wasted and nothing told that can be shown, Shannon Burke leads us on a powerful journey through the darkest precincts of the street and of the soul. Honest, terse, and enormously moving, Safelight is a debut of remarkable depth, a stunning, clear-eyed, and sympathetic portrait of American life and death–a love story not for the faint of heart.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Safelight|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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She came into view at the top of the stairway and motioned to hurry us. Burnett, who wasn’t going to hurry for any- one, kept climbing at the same indolent pace. We found her on the third floor in an open doorway. Beyond her, an empty room—white walls, folded canvas tarps, a dried roller, stacked cans. I smelled paint.
“We here for you?” Burnett asked.
“No. Him,” she said.
She shifted her eyes toward a shut door at the end of the newly painted white room. Burnett walked past her.
“Locked,” she said. “It’s locked.”
Burnett tried the knob, put his shoulder into it, then stepped back.
“I don’t know. Like this . . .”
She showed the length of the gun with two hands.
“Whatta you think?” he asked. “He ever tried before?”
“I don’t know.”
“You see him load it?”
She shook her head.
“Well, this is stupid. Don’t go near the door.”
That was it for Burnett. He walked to the end of the hallway, jerked the window open, and felt for cigarettes. She leaned against the doorframe and watched him sullenly. I thought I ought to say something.
“It’s not our job,” I said. “Some barricaded patient. What’re we gonna do?” Then, “You’re his girlfriend?”
“I hardly know him. I’m part of his group.”
“I’m positive,” she said.
I didn’t understand what she meant. Then I did.
She looked as if she was just out ...