When the writer Luc Sante was an undergraduate at Columbia University, he got into the habit, he has said, “of leaving Morningside Heights at around midnight, walking down to South Ferry and taking the ferry to Staten Island. . . . The timing was important. I’d want to get back in time for the Fulton Fish Market.” Strolling lower Manhattan, Sante sensed an untold story, one he uncovered through archival research in libraries and trips to used bookstores, where he searched for out-of-print texts that would light up downtown’s dim and dingy past. The result was his first book, Low Life, a history that moves through each forgotten corner, theater, bar, and tunnel of lower Manhattan at the turn of the century. But Sante hadn’t always wanted to be a writer—in the 1970s it was an “unhip art”—and he’s privately worked on collages that reflect his approach to nonfiction: hanging onto the past and reshaping it for the present. These collages, made from magazines and clippings Sante saved while working at the Strand decades ago, comprise his first gallery show. —C.J.F.
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