Village Voice, New York, NY, staff writer, 1987-2003.
Two Front Page Awards, Newswomen's Club of New York; Best Reporting in a Non-Daily Newspaper award, Society of Professional Journalists (New York chapter).
On Edge: Performance at the End of the Twentieth Century, Wesleyan University Press/University Press of New England (Hanover, NH), 1993.
Our Town: A Heartland Lynching, a Haunted Town, and the Hidden History of White America, Crown (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including L.A. Weekly, Mirabella, Drama Review, O: The Oprah Magazine, and ArtForum.
A former arts and culture writer for the Village Voice, journalist C. Carr is the author of On Edge: Performance at the End of the Twentieth Century, which comments on the avant garde scene of the early 1980s in New York, and Our Town: A Heartland Lynching, a Haunted Town, and the Hidden History of White America, a look at an infamous lynching in 1930 and her own family's ties to it.
Containing essays previously published in the Village Voice from the late 1980s and early 1990s, On Edge follows the brief rise and fall of avant garde performances in the East Village. Influenced by the earlier "queer theater" of the 1960s, many of the performances in the Village twenty years later often shocked audiences with frank nudity and other crude references. Sometimes, these shows had a sense of humor; other times they were just scatological, as in one case in which a performer inserted a microphone up his anus. Carr judges such acts on their artistic merit and is not afraid to criticize those who obviously are just reaching for shock value. "What depresses Carr most of all, however," commented Joan Acocella in Art in America, "is not the art of the East Village '80s, but the fact that it had so little time to develop before it was swallowed up by publicity." By the mid-1980s, the East Village performances were drawing attention from undesirable groupies and police, and by 1985 many of the clubs that had opened as venues for the avant garde artists had closed. Acocella reported: "Carr tells us on the first page of the book, 'the war was already lost, … whatever the East Village had meant to me was over.' This story, the devouring of the culture's edge by its middle, is the main theme of the book, the subject of its best and last essay, 'The Bohemian Diaspora,' and the chief source of its pessimism." A Publishers Weekly critic commented that a few of the essays in the book feel dated, but "most convey spirited descriptions and sensitive defenses of obscure or much-maligned avantgardists," while TDR contributor Rebecca Schneider declared "Carr's evocative descriptions of the ephemeral art and performance scene of the '80s and early '90s" to be of "immeasurable value."
After On Edge, Carr did not release another book for thirteen years. When she did publish Our Town, the result received favorable reviews. The book was inspired by a famous photograph taken in Marion, Indiana, in 1930. It shows two dead young black men after they had been lynched by a mob because they had been accused of rape and murder. The photo prompted research by Carr because her grandparents lived in Marion at the time, and she discovered that her grandfather had been a member of the Ku Klux Klan. In the book, Carr conducts a number of interviews, including one with the third black man who had been accused of the crime but whose life had been spared. The book concludes with the author noticing for the first time in the photo the face of her grandfather amongst the mob. Combining history with a personal quest that reveals the guilt of her own family in this racist act, Our Town was called a "stunning book" by Anthony O. Edmonds in Library Journal. "Our Town is one of the most fascinating and challenging explorations of [racism] to arrive in a long time," concluded Michael Agger in Mother Jones.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Art in America, June, 1994, Joan Acocella, review of On Edge: Performance at the End of the Twentieth Century, p. 33.
Biography, spring, 2006, Samuel G. Freedman, review of Our Town: A Heartland Lynching, a Haunted Town, and the Hidden History of White America, p. 389.
Booklist, February 1, 2006, Vernon Ford, review of Our Town, p. 19.
Brooklyn Rail, July-August, 2006, Sabrina Seelig, "Cynthia Carr's Our Town.
" Entertainment Weekly, March 24, 2006, Gilbert Cruz, review of Our Town, p. 75.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2006, review of Our Town, p. 25.
Library Journal, February 15, 2006, Anthony O. Edmonds, review of Our Town, p. 130.
Mother Jones, March-April, 2006, Michael Agger, review of Our Town, p. 84.
Publishers Weekly, December 6, 1993, review of On Edge, p. 67; October 3, 2005, review of Our Town, p. 60.
TDR, spring, 1995, Rebecca Schneider, review of On Edge, p. 152.
Denver Post Online,http://www.denverpost.com/ (April 2, 2006), Roger K. Miller, "The Town That Wounded Itself," review of Our Town.
NOLA.com, http://www.nola.com/ (April 28, 2006), W.E. Wallo, review of Our Town.
SFGate.com, http://sfgate.com/ (March 26, 2006), Sanford D. Horwitt, review of Our Town.
Telling It,http://www.tellingit.com/ (April 12, 2006), Edmund Blair Bolles, "Ambitious Readers and Writers," review of Our Town. *