‘The rules I’ve set out for myself are simple: no money or friends, except those I might find from here on in. I’ll do what the others do to get by, be whatever bum I choose: vagrant, beggar, wino, criminal, busker, con man or tramp, on any given day.’
In November 2001, 27-year-old Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall packed his life in a bag – complete with tent, notebooks, pen and a broken heart – and set out to spend a year in Tent City, the largest homeless settlement in North America. When he arrives, he finds an anarchic community of fugitives, drug addicts, prostitutes, dealers and ex-cons, a society where the rules are made up nightly and your life depends on knowing them.
Not only does Bishop-Stall manage to survive, but against all odds his own heart and spirit slowly mend. An astonishing account of birth, suicide, brawls, binges, good and bad intentions, fiendish charity and the sudden eloquence and generosity of broken souls, Down to This is not just a memoir but also a fascinating look at the lives of those on the fringes of society.