My Dreams Out in the Street

My Dreams Out in the Street

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by Kim Addonizio

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Rita Jackson is a young woman on the skids, spending her time in shelters and on the dot-com-drunk streets of late 1990s San Francisco. She's a young woman haunted by the murder of her mother when she was thirteen, and a young bride haunted by the disappearance of her husband, Jimmy, who split after a nasty argument more than a year earlier. Together Jimmy and Rita

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Rita Jackson is a young woman on the skids, spending her time in shelters and on the dot-com-drunk streets of late 1990s San Francisco. She's a young woman haunted by the murder of her mother when she was thirteen, and a young bride haunted by the disappearance of her husband, Jimmy, who split after a nasty argument more than a year earlier. Together Jimmy and Rita were slipping into drugs and hard times. Rita is filled with feelings of guilt and failure, and the hope that she will one day and Jimmy. She doesn't know that he is still in the city, still in love with her, waiting tables in an expensive restaurant while trying to get a foothold in the straight life.

When Rita witnesses the aftermath of a murder, her own life is endangered. She becomes involved with Gary Shepard, a married criminal investigator drawn to the dark side of this young woman. What unfolds is a story of three flawed people struggling with themselves as much as with their circumstances, as each of them is pulled more deeply and dangerously into the consequences of their decisions. When a drunken night leads Jimmy to jeopardize his second and last chance, it seems unlikely that these sweet, damaged people will ever come to anything, let alone find and — miracle of miracles — save one another.

But fate, in Addonizio's hands, works in strange and beautiful geometries. And redemption, she tells us, is never impossible.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Kim Addonizio writes like Lucinda Williams sings, with hard-earned grit and grace about the heart's longing for love and redemption, the kind that can only come in the darkest dark when survival no longer even seems likely. My Dreams Out In The Street is one of the finest American novels I've read in some time, a night-blooming flower you will not be able to put down, so honestly rendered you'll wonder, as you turn the last page, why you feel so much hope."

— Andre Dubus III, Author of House Of Sand And Fog

Publishers Weekly
Parsh realism mixes with poetic despair as the characters in Addonizio's second novel try to climb out of the hells of their own making. Rita Louise Jackson is homeless at 24, trying to get off heroin and find her husband, Jimmy D'Angelo, who left her after a fight. Rita wanders through contemporary San Francisco, sometimes drunk, sometimes strung out, turning tricks or panhandling when she needs money, all the while haunted by memories of her murdered mother and of her time with Jimmy. As she contemplates ways to turn her life around, an unwelcome opportunity arises when she sees a body being taken out of a seedy hotel. The murderer spots her and promises to come after her. The ensuing fear brings private investigator Gary Shepard into her life. Jimmy, meanwhile, is finding something like success as a waiter at a swanky restaurant. Even during the harshest times, the beauty of Addonizio's language binds the reader to a story that unfolds in the shadows of Denis Johnson's and Charles Bukowski's works. Addonizio (Little Beauties, and several poetry volumes, including What Is This Thing Called Love) might not bring much new to the hobo/vagabond-lit. bonfire, but her characters' desperate lives are rendered with striking delicacy. (July)

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Kirkus Reviews
In Addonizio's lumpen proletariat fairy tale, a young homeless woman in San Francisco survives a series of degradations, often self-inflicted, in her search for her lost husband. By anyone's standards, 24-year-old Rita has had a hard life. Raised in foster care after her mother's murder by a boyfriend who also molested Rita, she began turning tricks at an early age and became addicted to heroin and alcohol. But the gamin beauty has found happiness with her husband Jimmy, a sweet man who plays the harmonica and holds a job, at least for a while. Rita and Jimmy's fragile security shatters when they are evicted from their apartment. They move into a shabby hotel until Rita storms out after a fight over her heroin addiction. By the time she returns, Jimmy is gone. Rita finds herself on the streets. Addonizio (Little Beauties, 2005, etc.) describes with relish Rita's wanderings among the city's underclass: the homeless men in the park, the seedy hotels, the drug dealers. Street life's usual danger is heightened when Rita witnesses a crime, but Gary, a private detective, takes her under his protection. Feeling pressured by his wife's desire to have a child, Gary has begun his own downward spiral into alcoholism and thinks he's fallen in love with Rita. All she wants is to find Jimmy. She has no idea that he's been in jail for three months for his semi-involvement in a botched robbery. Now out, he is working hard at an Italian restaurant where he's promoted from kitchen help to waiter, but his choice of friends threatens to get him into more trouble. As Rita and Jimmy long for each other, coincidences work against them until each grows relatively stronger and their paths converge into anot-quite-plausible happy ending. Despite (or because of) her poetic flair, Addonizio's overly romantic, dreamy take on the marginal world of her characters comes across as synthetic. Agent: Rob McQuilkin/Lippincott Massie McQuilkin

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Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Kim Addonizio is the author of several acclaimed poetry collections, including What Is This Thing Called Love and Tell Me, which was a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award. Her poetry and fiction have appeared widely in literary journals and anthologies, including The Paris Review, Microfiction, Narrative, The Mississippi Review, and others. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and two NEA grants, Addonizio lives in Oakland, California.

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My Dreams out in the Street 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kim Addonizio is a marvelous original. She writes like a divine union of Flannery O¿Conner and Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner and Raymond Chandler. She¿s one of the most unadorned, artful spiritual writers I know. My Dreams Out in the Street has everything I look for in a contemporary novel. Rita, its lead character, is compelling. Alternately sexy, mysterious, stupid, resourceful, and inept, She moves through San Francisco¿s underbelly with unflagging desperation. Struggling to survive, Rita is one of those people who never got an even break. She wants to climb out of the hole she¿s in to a better life, but doesn¿t know how. She¿s hungry to get right with God, who appeared to her once in a childhood vision but has been woefully absent since, and she wants to find Jimmy, her husband who left their apartment one night after an argument and disappeared. Along the way, she sees something she shouldn¿t, is hunted by a psychotic deadbeat, and hooks up with a married private investigator who helps her and promises to find Jimmy. The story alternates between these three points of view, and Addonizio does a masterful job of interweaving the characters¿ separate-yet-parallel stories, especially through the last third of the book as the plot quickens and various elements come together in surprising, satisfying ways. Without giving away everything, I can tell you that I lost two good nights¿ sleep fearing that Rita would soon be murdered. All through the narrative, Addonizio¿s eye for nuance, description, and detail is a gifted poet¿s eye. Her depictions of homelessness and desperate urban street life are achingly poignant and scary. And yet, and yet! She believes in grace, in spiritual integrity: ¿The streetlights came on all together. Lights began flaring in windows up and down the block, where people were returning to families or friends, looking forward to the holiday soon they would give thanks, grateful to spend a few hours with those they had chosen or been given to love, those they had gathered around them to help them live.¿ I wish I¿d written that! Reward yourself for any little or big thing and spend some time with this book. If you¿re paying attention, if you¿ve got a pulse, you can¿t help but fall in love with these characters and their creator. --Robert McDowell, the Poetry Mentor and author of Poetry as Spiritual Practice, available July 2008 from Free Press/Simon & Schuster
Anonymous More than 1 year ago