South by South Bronx

South by South Bronx

by Abraham Rodriguez

View All Available Formats & Editions

“Powerful. . . . A redemptive and absorbing work.”—The New York Times Book Review, on Spidertown

“Scary, sexy, exuberant. . . . Rodriguez has seized a truth of our times . . . and given us a crackling good read.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review, on Spidertown

“Rodriguez uses the repetitiveness

…  See more details below


“Powerful. . . . A redemptive and absorbing work.”—The New York Times Book Review, on Spidertown

“Scary, sexy, exuberant. . . . Rodriguez has seized a truth of our times . . . and given us a crackling good read.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review, on Spidertown

“Rodriguez uses the repetitiveness of life in the ghetto itself to make the tension and desperation of Spidertown achingly palpable.”—People, on Spidertown

“A joy to read! Rodriguez’s writing has never been more accomplished, more lyrical, more trenchant, or more humane. In these pages you will find marvels, but also a young man writing with the ferocity of life itself.”—Junot Díaz, on The Buddha Book

When Puerto Rican ladies’ man Alex awakes one morning to find a mysterious woman in his bed, he assumes he’s suffered another embarrassing blackout. He soon learns, however, that Ava is no one-night stand—in fact, he’s never met her before. As her story begins to unfold and her reason for appearing in his bed emerges, it is not just Alex’s life that she risks, nor her own, but the entire character of the South Bronx.

Abraham Rodriguez, Jr. was born and raised in the South Bronx. His first book, The Boy without a Flag, was a 1993 New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His novel Spidertown won a 1995 American Book Award and was optioned by Columbia Pictures. His most recent novel, The Buddha Book, was published by Picador in 2001. He currently lives in Berlin, Germany.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Told from a variety of perspectives, including that of Detective Sanchez of the Bronx NYPD, this fevered noir from Rodriguez (Spidertown) centers on law enforcement's search for a drug dealer known as Spook, who had agreed to launder huge sums of money for a terrorist group, but took off with the cash instead. Punctuating the main story line are chapters whose relevance is obscure; one, for example, contains short biographies of Leni Riefenstahl, Anne Sexton and Marlene Dietrich. The author eventually pulls the disparate strands together, including those to do with Ava Reynolds, a mysterious blonde with instant recall who proves her ability by memorizing a page of Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho. At its best, the novel carries the reader along by the force of its hypnotic prose, but the effort necessary to keep track of what's going on may turn off those more comfortable with a conventional linear narrative. Author tour. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

In the months before 9/11, a plot involving Arab nationals funneling $10 million to a South Bronx, NY, drug dealer to launder draws in a variety of law enforcement officials and locals. Sanchez, a South Bronx cop on the outs with his fellow officers for reporting a rogue officer, is contacted by CIA operative Myers, who's searching for the aforementioned drug dealer (named Spook), Spook's brother David, and the money they have apparently taken for themselves. Myers's mysterious blond assistant (who may also have the money) soon finds herself tumbling off a fire escape into a stranger's apartment while escaping David's shooting. She quickly captivates the stranger, shoe salesman Alex, and his artist friends Mink and Monk. A convoluted chase ensues as Myers tries to locate the money; Alex, Mink, and Monk try to protect the woman; and Sanchez is caught in the middle with his own complicated motives. More than a crime tale, this is also a gritty exploration of love and art. Recommended for most public libraries.
—Lawrence Rungren

Read More

Product Details

Akashic Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Akashic Books Copyright © 2008 Abraham Rodriguez
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-933354-56-9

Chapter One That night, she ran. Rain-splattered, cars honking. Headlights blurred wetly. She crept along tenement brick, back alleys. Side streets. Avoiding cop cars.

A bodega man stepped out for a smoke. Offered her a cigarette as they stood under bodega awning. The rain dropped in mad, thin streams. He lit her with a long, thin flame. She sucked in that first nicotine hit. His eyes, looking at her. She couldn't blink them off.

"There's blood on your cheek," he said.

She wiped at it with the palm of her cigarette hand. It was blood, it was her blood. She hoped it was her blood.

The cigarette taste flattened everything. She kept busy sucking in that smoke, contemplating that glowing tip like it was good company. The words the bodeguero spoke, drowned out by rain patter.

She left before the cigarette ran out. If it did, she would have had to ask for another and that much involvement she didn't want.

There was no point in walking wet streets, rain slapping her up like that. She wouldn't get anywhere in this town knocking on doors. There were those cop cars, flashing silent, like fireflies.

The way off the street, was to climb.

The building was a big gray job. It towered over this block of small shuttered stores. The fire escapes were easy to reach from the stoop after a hop and a pull. On that 4 a.m. street there was nobody to wonder about the crazy white girl climbing the access ladder. Barefoot, in a clingy wet minidress. A second skin, flowered print. Up there, respite from rain. Not blinking from wet, better to breathe. To think a moment and see the down below.

She slid past half-open windows, so close she could hear the calm slow sleep breath. Some radio chatter. The buzzy hum of an air conditioner.

(Climb, climb)

Through the open window on the third floor she spotted a couple, dancing. Luis Vargas playing soft on the stereo. The one candle flickered unreliably. The woman was in a red dress, fringe splashing her thighs like water. The guy was bare-chested. Black dress pants, like a matador. She watched them dance slow and close. Took a moment before she realized the guy was wearing an eye patch.

The candle went out. The rain pattered a drum beat against fire escape steel. Creak of springs like child giggles.

She kept climbing. To the very top.

The window she chose was wide open, as if the person living there wanted no impediments for whoever arrived. She sat on the edge of the window. The room slowly took shape, a charcoal sketch coming to life under a gray moon.

It was a corner room. The windows along the far wall showed sky and moon like paintings. There were no curtains, no clutter, no mass of things. No bureau or dresser, no big mirror. (It must not be a woman who lives here.) A cluster of milk crates. A chair with some clothes on it.

The bed was placed right in the center of the room. There was no headboard, no frame, no connection to the walls. It floated in the middle of the room like an island.

The man looked like he had fallen. Facedown on the bed. Legs and arms splayed as if he had taken a couple of shells in the back. The sheets did not hide his body from her.

She sat there by the window a long time, shivering from wet, from the pinpricks Alan had given her to make her tell the truth. The skies brightened. The rain stopped. The first hit of light added color with slow brush strokes. A blue room. Bare walls. A bottle of something lying on the bed, as if it had slipped from his hand and rolled a little.

She invaded slowly. Inhaled the room. Liquor, sweat, and sleep breath. Varnish, old socks, cigarettes. A bare foot protruding from the side of the bed. It was the softest foot she had ever seen on a man. No calluses no hard ridges or bumps. She almost touched it.

Peeled off, the wet sticky minidress. She was soaked, down to bra and G-string. It all came off, made a bundle on the slick floor. The guy must have worked on it himself to make it look so waxy fresh. A museum floor.

She rubbed herself dry with a shirt that was on the chair.

The slow, steady. Rise and fall of his breath.

On the very edge of the bed. She sat, slowly in. Set off no ripples of movement from him. She lay down in one quick move.

Waited. Nothing. No break in the rhythm.

She slipped under the sheet.

The trembling, deep shudders. Flashing lights. She was running down a long hallway. He murmured, he turned, he put his arm around her. So snagged, hitched, she waited for words but he slept on. The trembling would not stop. He was good to strain against, to hold onto. Clutching, arms and legs. Wasted into tiredness. The sense of falling down a dark shaft.

Those seagulls flew by with cries that couldn't wake anybody.


Excerpted from SOUTH BY SOUTH BRONX by ABRAHAM RODRIGUEZ Copyright © 2008 by Abraham Rodriguez. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >