- Paperback: 224 pages
- Published: 5/5/15
- IBSN: 9781617753039
- e-IBSN: 9781617753664
- Genre: Fiction
A riveting coming-of-age story that follows a young woman who squats abandoned buildings with comrades in 1990s New York City.
Nominated for the Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prize for Fiction
“Wakefield wrote an intrepid nonfiction book about modern squatting, Not for Rent (1996), and now vividly fictionalizes the experience, portraying various oddball characters in her charmingly laid-back, dialogue-rich first novel with empathy and insight.”
“Wakefield . . . draws on personal experience for this colorful and entertaining depiction. . . . the sentiment of the nomadic community in New York in the ‘90s comes alive through historical references and Sid’s journey as she forges a network of like-minded individuals.”
“A book that Wakefield’s characters would love.”
“The angst and passion of a witty, determined young rebel makes for a saga that is compelling and vivid, and a story that will draw in any young rebel who has dreamed of bucking convention.”
—Midwest Book Review
One of The L Magazine‘s 50 Books You’ll Want to Read This Spring and Summer
“The lively novel brings to life the misfits and eccentrics that inhabited the neighborhood decades before The Wyeth Hotel and Blue Bottle opened up.”
“A good novel . . . Wakefield’s conversational tone keeps the narrative flowing and you really can’t help but like Sid because of her optimistic view of squatting (and the world in general).”
“The residential squatting brought to life in Wakefield’s novel is its own kind of political statement, but one that is made in everyday life choices. . . . The characters—at least some of whom are composites of people Wakefield met while squatting—are immediate and rub up against you in familiar ways, especially if you lived through the ’90s and knew people who lived this lifestyle.”
—KGB Bar Lit Magazine
“This gritty book gives readers a rare glimpse into the lives of the squatters in the 90s NYC scene.”
“The book is a celebration of the do-it-yourself living ethos that allowed many punks to live communally in New York City at the end of the last century, but it is also a cautionary tale about the struggles of trying to get along when living in large groups.”
—The Brooklyn Paper
“Wakefield puts her knowledge of activist punk culture to great use in The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory, setting the story against a backdrop of Born Against patches and ABC No Rio matinees, building tension through contentious house meetings and showing how the scene’s realities can put idealism to the test.”
“If you know anything about New York punk culture you know at least a little about the squats in the book. Sid works at ABC No Rio, and sometimes sleeps on their roof during the summer (hands up if you remember the squatter camp up there!), she goes to C Squat, has friends at Serenity; it’s a big old LES squatters party in this book.”
“It’s an entirely new world for working stiffs everywhere. This story speeds across the squat-landscape in an urban survival tale styled with rust, grit and plenty of punk bravado. It’s fast. It’s funny. It’s a little bit dangerous. It’s totally worth the read.”
—Mid-Continent Public Library
“A strange and wonderful little book . . . . Wakefield perfectly captures that time in a young person’s life when everything seems possible, when we still believe that with enough courage and sacrifice the lives we imagine for ourselves can become a reality. . . . A great book.”
—Leafing Through Life
“Stacy Wakefield’s debut novel is a quirky intersection of the individual, society, and compromise. . . . Wakefield’s characters maximize the verve and tenacity of youth. If you’re curious about what the Lower East Side and Williamsburg squatters did in their spare time (were they like you and me?), The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory is an excellent informant.”
—Best New Fiction
“Stacy Wakefield serves us a tough heroine in Sid; a young woman seeking a squat to call home in NYC starting in the summer of 1995.”
—A Bibliophile’s Reverie
“This novel is in the realm of Ash Thayer’s Kill City, and much of it is spent renovating, hauling debris, getting water, etc. . . . Think of it as a book about a woman doing everything on her own; no money from home, and no getting by on her looks.”
—Ink New York
“[The novel is] a ton of fun and gives us a fascinating look at a subculture foreign to most of us. Some readers feel their hearts beating faster reading stories of adventure in the wild; I feel this when I read about train-hopping, squatting, urban exploration, direct action, and similar activities. Wakefield’s novel scratched that itch. Check it out if you get a chance.”
—David Nilsen (blog)
“Stacy Wakefield reminds us again that whatever macho shit boys do, girls can do better.”
—Karen O, singer, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
“Stacy Wakefield covers a rarely documented time in American urban history—the squat movement—when crusty punks were the new pioneers. Through her unforgettable protagonist Sidney, this is a steel-toed tale of urban survival for a generation too fucked up to fit into a post-Reagan, middle-class-free America, loaded with crappy part-time jobs and fleeting temp spots. This book should serve as a stark lesson for the Airbnb trustafarians who inhabit Williamsburg today—that just two short decades ago, their delightful playground was as much a dangerous frontier as the Old West. Instead of paying with cash, you paid with sweat equity and courage, only to come home one day and find the abandoned building that you made inhabitable was just sold out from under you.”
—Arthur Nersesian, author of Gladyss of the Hunt
“When I finished this novel I went, No! I couldn’t believe it was over so fast. I loved this book—the first that captures the soulful mystery of what drives the global-nomadic, urban-punk, musician-artist-poet squatter underground movement, carving out its future in the dystopian cities that are already here. The book’s heroine is one to die for.”
—V. Vale, RE/Search Publications
Sid arrives in New York City in 1995 eager to join the anarchist squatting scene. She’s got a tattoo, she listens to the right bands . . . so why would she get a job and rent some tiny shoe-box apartment when she could take over a whole building with a gang of wild young pirates? But the Lower East Side is changing; there are no more empty buildings, the squats are cliquey and full.
Sid teams up with a musician from Mexico and together they find their way across the bridge to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Packs of wild dogs roam the waterfront and the rough building in which they finally find space is occupied by misfits who don’t know anything about the Manhattan squatting scene, Food Not Bombs, Critical Mass, or hardcore punk. But this is Sid’s chance and she’s determined to make a home for herself—no matter what.
Wakefield spent years living in squatted buildings in Europe and New York and brings firsthand knowledge to Sid’s story: how urban homesteaders lived without plumbing or electricity, how they managed their semilegal status, and what they cared about and fought for. With Sid, Wakefield has created a character who belongs to that world and is also entirely relatable. Sid is a resourceful, intrepid young woman with a wry sense of humor; she’s great company on our journey into the lost world of New York City’s recent past.
Read an excerpt from The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory at Ravishly.
Listen to an interview with Stacy Wakefield on KBOO’s Between the Covers.
STACY WAKEFIELD published her first nonfiction book about squatting, the underground classic Not for Rent, in 1994. Her debut novel is The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory. Wakefield is cocreator of the photo/essay book Please Take Me Off the Guest List with Nick Zinner and Zachary Lipez. She grew up in the Pacific Northwest and lives in Brooklyn and the Catskills with her husband, musician Nick Forte.