From Publishers Weekly
The increasingly intimate but still uneasy relationship between "alternative" cultures and the forces of globalization underlies Vanderbilt professor Lloyd's sparkling ethnographic study of Chicago's hipster enclave Wicker Park. Once the down-at-heel home of Frankie Machine, the junkie protagonist of Nelson Algren's [The Man with the Golden Arm
], it's now the sort of neighborhood where one can look at art, linger over a cafe americano, listen to poetry or indie rock, or be cordially abused by record store clerks straight out of High Fidelity
, which was filmed there. Good on the big picture, Lloyd's 10 chapters situate the evolving neighborhood within a complex nexus of commercial and social forces that he calls the "aesthetic economy." But as thorough (and commendably dogma- and jargon-free) as Lloyd is on background, it is in the "field" that he shines, bringing abstract concepts to life with a real feel for the "new economy" bars, galleries and high-tech startups, as well as the often happily exploited people who work in them. Trading high wages for the romance of bohemia, the bartenders, baristas and code punchers of Wicker Park are evolving new codes and values often strikingly at odds with suburban ones, and Lloyd's study gives their evolution a wealth of nuanced human detail. This combination of solid research and a good ear gives Lloyd's book an unusual depth; none of his readers is likely to undertip an eyebrow-studded waitserver anytime soon. 15 b&w photos. (Oct.)
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...It is an important contribution to urban studies that will be appreciated for years to come..Mitchell Duneier, Princeton University and CUNY Graduate Center, and author of Sidewalk
...It is theoretically knowledgeable, substantively rich, and intellectually smart.
.Harvey Molotch, author of Where Stuff Comes From and coauthor of Urban Fortunes
...This is a smart, cogent book that thinks big and attends to details with equal virtuosity..Carlo Rotella, author of Good With Their Hands: Boxers, Bluesmen, and Other Characters from the Rust Belt
Some of Lloyd's best work comes in his dissection of Wicker Park's economy, which depends largely on its hip, young residents either working long hours as bartenders or waitstaff, or long hours in various digital design occupations. This is fascinating, original and deeply humane sociology at its finest;...
.Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com, November 17, 2005