Andrew Keller on Cari Luna’s “The Revolution of Every Day,”
by Tin House Books
What does the word “safety” mean and how is it relevant to Cari Luna’s book? The characters in The Revolution of Every Day live in a world divorced from present-day Manhattan. This is not a place of comfort or high living. The squat in which Amelia, Gerrit, Anne, Steve, and others live, is in dire need of repair. The tenants keep a constant vigil outside for any signs that they will be shut down by the police.
Even in the beginning of the book, there is no soft introduction of the people of Thirteen House — so dubbed by those who live there. They are trying their best to fix the staircase with salvaged wood. It is cold out. There is food for everyone, cooked by the women of the collective, but there should probably be more.
Throughout the book, tensions rise, relationships fall apart, and everyone in the squat comes to know just how tenuous communal living can be. Luna is a skilled enough writer that even the ancillary residents — and, of course, the main characters — of Thirteen House and the neighboring Cat House seem well rounded and complex.
Amelia, Gerrit, Steve, and Anne all have their own tales to tell. The reader gets that and more: the author knows that building a sense of community and safety is tough and rewarding. Surely, terrible things happen in this book, but there is still a sense of hope at the end.