Desperate Dreams

In

Kim Addonizio

’s

My Dreams Out in the Street

, every character has his poison. Protagonist Rita prefers vodka and cranberry; her missing husband Jimmy likes beer; private investigator Gary usually drinks Jack; and his miserable wife Annie swills Chardonnay. Smack, coke and weed figure in, too.

It’s not their fault though -- they do it because life sucks. And Rita’s worst of all. A homeless prostitute who kinda accidentally misplaced her husband one messed-up day, she wanders San Francisco hoping to find him and getting kicked in the face, fucked, robbed, chased off and threatened. Of course she’ll buy a fifth whenever she gets the chance. Her world -- the world of Dreams -- is about as abject as they come, and it’s frankly exhausting even for the reader (maybe that’s the point).

Sitting in a dingy hotel room, Gary reflects, “No wonder so many people in rooms like this [do] nothing but live from one drink or needle shot or crack hit to the next. They [are] sick of the whole deal.”

Given all this, you have to wonder about Addonizio’s book-jacket photo. With world-weary expression, tattoos and fingerless gloves, she stands holding what looks like a…beer! What is she trying to say? That her life, too, sucks? She was nominated for the damn National Book Award in 2000 -- things can’t be that bad, can they? – Cathy Matusow

My Dreams Out in the Street, Simon & Schuster, $23


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