Book Review: Negative Space

Lilly Dancyger’s memoir Negative Space is a touching, suspenseful story of art, family, and love.

I could not put this book down — so compelling! Dancyger reconstructs her father’s life as an artist, uncovering truth about her family and herself. The story was more heartwarming than tearful, despite the focus on experiencing grief. It made me itch to find out all the details I don’t know about my own relatives’ lives.

Dancyger creates a beautiful work of art, pulling inspiration from her father’s life work and building on it to create her own life, and this book. She explains how her father’s artwork is relevant to interpersonal drama and subsequent soul searching. His art is powerful, relatable, and brings its own visual voice to the narrative.

I felt immersed in the neighborhoods Dancyger lived in as a child and adult, from Manhattan’s East Village to Fort Ord and Carmel on the California coast. I particularly liked seeing J-school from a critical perspective, and how out of touch with the local community most college students were.

I highly recommend this book. It’s one of the best memoirs I’ve read. I am going to read it a second time, for sure. You should read it at least once!

Negative Space a book by Lilly Dancyger
Despite her parents’ struggles with addiction, Lilly Dancyger always thought of her childhood as a happy one. But what happens when a journalist interrogates her own rosy memories to reveal the instability around the edges? Dancyger’s father, Joe Schactman, was part of the iconic 1980s East Village…

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