Inside Jami Attenberg’s Williamsburg Apartment


Jami Attenberg was standing on the roof of her apartment building, the gray city skyline behind gray city clouds, taking in some freshly installed graffiti. “This stuff is new,” she said while snapping pictures, seeming proud that the unofficial neighborhood beautification team was still laboring in the night. She brightened after noticing the words “Spread Love” scrawled in neon green across a purple heart. The shameless optimism was a welcome addition to the day, which began with a leak from her upstairs neighbor’s apartment into her bathroom and was followed by two in-home interviews in preparation for her upcoming book, The Middlesteins, which is out in late October. One of those interviews also involved someone snooping around her apartment to take photos, a slightly voyeuristic departure from the kind of interviews a novelist like Attenberg is accustomed to.

“I really should have tidied up,” she said, glancing around the lived-in but not-at-all messy loft. A recent party had left all the furniture pushed into an unusual arrangement. “So it’s not an accurate representation of my apartment,” she said. “Even if I try to be a perfectionist I can’t be a perfectionist.”

This space is the third one Attenberg has called home in this industrial Kent Avenue building. She’s moved in and out, up and down, but “ATTENBERG” is clearly printed next to her current buzzer, though she often spends large parts of the year elsewhere.

Over a decade ago she was invited to a party in this building, her first foray into Brooklyn since moving to the city in 1998. She was quickly enamored with the view from the roof, and told herself that if she ever moved to Brooklyn she would need to find a place just like this. Not much later she answered an apartment listing on Craigslist which led her back to the exact building where the party had been. She’s been here, on and off, ever since.

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