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Seeing ‘Red’

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In the decade that she lived in Red Hook, Maureen McNeil collected plenty of stories about the neighborhood — it was the mid 1980s, after all — and on Saturday, April 12, she celebrated the release of a book comprised of them.

“Red Hook Stories” is a collection of 20 of McNeil’s essays paired with 20 photographs by her pal, and another former resident, Janet Neuhauser. The pair threw a party celebrating their joint venture on the book’s release date at the ’hood’s now-hot Kentler International Drawing Space.

“I lived in Red Hook from 1981 until 1991 and found that the neighborhood was exactly the kind of place I was interested in writing about,” said McNeil. “The people were really warm, interesting and diverse. Every afternoon, Janet and I would take a walk around the neighborhood and look for inspiration.”

And they certainly found it; “Red Hook Stories” is brimming with photos and essays that explore aspects of life that make the neighborhood unique.

“I think the landscape is poetic, and these are stories about time and place,” said McNeil. “I hope that people see a lot of strength in the community even if it isn’t a typical one.”

And while McNeil is nostalgic for old Red Hook, she can’t deny that some changes in the neighborhood have been positive.

“I have to admit, even though I felt like we didn’t need the amenities, it must be nice to be able to buy your groceries down there.”

“Red Hook Stories” ($29.99, Xlibris) is available at Freebird Books (123 Columbia Street in Red Hook). For information, call (718) 643-8484 or visit www.freebirdbooks.com.

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