A fiercely unapologetic and compulsively readable debut set among squatting artists in Brooklyn in the early ’90s
SELF PORTRAIT #400
by Rachel Lyon
SELF PORTRAIT #400 is set among squatting artists in DUMBO, Brooklyn in the early ’90s. Lu Rile is hungry – physically as an impoverished young photographer, in terms of her creative ambition, and emotionally as an abandoned daughter – on the day she accidentally captures an image of a boy falling to his death in the background of a self-portrait. Once exposed, it turns out to be a clearly terrific photo: her own naked body leaping in front of her window from the inside with the boy’s form symmetrically falling in counterpoint outside the pane — a photograph so good that it could change Lu’s life….if she lets it. The decision is not simple. The boy is her neighbor’s son, and while she had no relationship with her neighbors prior to his death, the tragedy brings the whole warehouse together and especially Lu with his beautiful grieving mother Kate. Not only does Lu get embroiled with the drama and mounting expense of the building’s real estate politics as developers close in, she also quietly falls in love with her devastated neighbor…
Rachel Lyon’s work has appeared most recently or is forthcoming in McSweeney’s, Joyland, Bustle, The Toast, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. She attended Princeton (BA) and Indiana University (MFA), where she was fiction editor of the Indiana Review.