Brokedown Palace is Maggie Dubris’s ode to St. Clare’s, the Hell’s Kitchen hospital where she worked as an EMT for more than 25 years, until it closed. She weaves together prose and verse, memory and reportage, documents and testimonies into an epic ride that takes in the crumbling Times Square of the ’80s, the parade of odd characters that passed through, the ad hoc expedients demanded by a hospital without funds, and then the crushing onslaught of AIDS. Her book is absorbing, funny, lyrical, and transcendentally sad, a stunning poetic monument to a New York City that no longer exists. —Luc Sante
In any great work—one that fuses the imagination with memories—there is something deeper to be discovered about yourself and the time you live. Brokedown Palace is in that tradition if you allow it to be—it’s painfully alive about something that appears to be dead but if you just tilt your head a bit, glance out of the corner of your eye, step to one side, you will see it’s all there. It has jagged edges that feel punk with spaces in between that are like an invocation, a prayer, a reflection. It’s not easy but it’s rewarding, reminding us of our relationship to hope and fate. These tight, beautifully clear life sketches open in your mind as you read, less as settings but more as airy plunging ambiences in dreams. Dubris knows that you can’t show the whole world, but born of a fleeting moment like a snapshot, you can find the whole in the detail of her words. —from the Afterword by Antonino D’Ambrosio
Maggie Dubris is a writer and sound artist based in New York City. For 25 years she worked as a 911 paramedic in the Times Square area. Much of her work draws on that experience. Other books by Maggie include In The Dust Zone, Centre-Ville Books, 2010; Skels, Soft Skull Press, 2004; Weep Not, My Wanton, Black Sparrow Press, 2002; and WillieWorld, Cuz Editions, 1999.