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Drift: Stories

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Drift: Stories [Paperback]

Victoria Patterson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 25, 2009

Welcome to Newport Beach, California--a community often found glittering in the spotlight, but one that isn't always as glamorous as we imagine. Through the lives of waiters and waitresses, divorced and single parents, and alienated teens, Victoria Patterson's Drift offers a rare and rewarding view into the real life of this nearly mythical place, all the while plumbing the depths of female friendship and what it means to be an outsider. Fresh, energetic, deceptively powerful and delightfully frank, hers is a voice you won't be able to stop reading.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Patterson illustrates how deceiving initial impressions can be in her dark debut, a collection of 13 interconnected stories. At first glance, the characters seem to be blessed, living in tony Newport Beach, Calif., but Patterson quickly scrapes off the glitter, examining the complicated lives of Rosie, a confused teenage girl; John Wayne, a brain-damaged, homeless stoner; Anne, a lesbian psychologist in love with Rosie's mother; Melody, a trophy wife cheating on her husband, Henry Wilson, who has a secret of his own; and Joe/Christina, a transvestite. The majority of the stories feature Rosie, a nerdy teenager whose attempts to make sense of her life lead her down increasingly self-destructive paths, though she remains touchingly aware of others' suffering. In Winter Formal: A Night of Magic, Rosie and a seemingly perfect blonde princess have a nightmare evening; in The First and Second Time, Rosie violently loses her virginity. Later, in Joe/Christina, Rosie, now an alcoholic community college student, finds an unlikely savior in the local transvestite. Patterson's unflinching account of the seedy side of a real-life Xanadu is frightening, immersive and wonderfully realized. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Victoria Patterson''s Newport Beach is a privileged world of wealth and heedless consumption that trails a wake of human damage. By giving us nuanced portraits of the sidelined, she somehow evokes the complex, glittering whole. Patterson is our generation''s heir to John O''Hara and Edith Wharton. And nobody else writes about female sexuality with such sensitivity and fearlessness. Several times, I had to put this book down just to catch my breath. --Michelle Huneven, author of Jamesland and Round Rock (Michelle Huneven )

Victoria Patterson's beautiful stories break our hearts as they inform us. Through her characters we see the complications and trauma of not fitting in with one's surroundings, in a version of California we are rarely allowed to see. Haunting, affirming, and often comic, her stories make the reader grateful for this writer's documentation of our human alienation--and our unexpected bonds. Patterson is a gifted storyteller, a fresh, essential new voice. -- Dana Johnson, author of Break Any Woman Down (Dana Johnson )

"Victoria Patterson has enormous talent and I suspect we''ll be hearing a lot more from her." (James Lee Burke )

"If I could write just a single story as beautiful and heartbreaking and intelligent as the thirteen linked together in Drift, I''m pretty sure that I could die a happy man. Victoria Patterson makes me envious as hell, and I applaud her for it." (Donald Ray Pollock )

"Set against the affluence of Newport Beach, Patterson's debut collection often focuses on the enclaves-- outcasts, waitstaff, divorcées, alcoholics, and drug addicts--as her characters confront personal battles, the limits of friendship, and the bleary anticipation of a different life. Patterson's 13 engaging tales offer keen perspectives on life lived on the fringe." (Booklist )

"Patterson''s unflinching account of the seedy side of a real-life Xanadu is frightening, immersive, and wonderfully realized." (Publisher's Weekly (starred review) )

Product Details

  • Paperback: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (June 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547054947
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547054940
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #610,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving story collection August 23, 2009
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These thirteen linked and evocative stories are set in Newport Beach, California, a Southern California landscape that is at once breathtakingly gorgeous -- the palm trees, the water, the yachts, the sand, the twinkling lights -- and emotionally bereft. Like Victoria Patterson, an exciting new fictional voice, I grew up here too, though many years ago. I went to the same high school as Rosie, perhaps the most central of several repeating characters, and felt both the excitement and the danger of coming of age in a place so beautiful yet so brutal, where youth and beauty alone are the coin of the realm for a young woman.

But I didn't expect to like these stories as much as I did, because it's too easy to mock this Eden and to expose its blindnesses and hypocrisies. Think "The OC." From publishers' descriptions of the book, that was what I was fearing. I'm used to the thoughtless denigration (or alternatively the uncritical exploitation) of Southern California and Orange County for its shallowness. I was unprepared for this complex fictional sketch of a seductive Eden where children struggle with the pain of divorce, parents and grandparents seek fulfillment while mourning the damage, and people chafe against constricting gender and sexual categories. This collection is truly something fresh, free, and different -- and painfully accurate.

Both entertaining and haunting, Patterson's collection is a tour de force. She won me over, and I look forward to her future writing.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Diseased driftwood on seas of regret. July 24, 2009
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I preface this review by admitting compilations of short stories are not my usual reading fare. However, if all books of short stories were this brilliantly connected by location and shared woes, I would read nothing else.

The backdrop is wealthy Newport Beach in CA. The author grants entry inside the dazzling mansions, dark with secrets hidden deeper because of money's power. Victoria Patterson tears at myths that the rich have no problems, no woes, no accountability; especially the ones that married into the opulence. While reading this intense array of tales, one comes to understand more fully the line from an old Eagles song, `Lyin Eyes:' "I guess every form of refuge has it's price." The prices evoked are monumental. Especially from the offspring who bear the "sins of their father's and mother's" emblazoned on broken, shattered psyches that conclude the only way is down, determined to find redemption in all forms of addiction.

I highly, highly recommend this book for readers who don't mind ugly subject matter; who are willing to see inside the shiny garbage cans; who believe all that glitters is NOT gold.

Good luck, Ms. Patterson. I wish you a prolific career as you are most deserving.

P.S. I am a Christian...just so you know we aren't all maniacal, horrible, hypocrites. Some of us Love to a degree of utter compassion.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the other side June 23, 2009
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
`Drift: Stories' is written about the wealthy community, Newport Beach , California. However the stories describe the dark side.
Victoria Patterson uses descriptive word pictures both of the people and the surroundings. Her observations are astute and some stories have intertwining characters.
Perhaps most can identify with one of the first characters feelings...`it is so beautiful here maybe we do not belong`. Writing of the "small" cruelties of divorce and the tribulations of fuzzy hair and braces in high school, being asked `what planet do you come from" are just some of the observations that I found myself smiling as I read, thinking, I would like to meet these people which demonstrates good constructive writing.
Then on the other side of the monetary coin the feelings that the wealthy aren't bad, just maybe preferred. Some people look so good, it just never occurs to them to ask why, they are just the chosen.
You should be aware that these are broken up into stories not a novel constructed through -so if that will bother the continuity in your reading just be aware.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Writing, An Engaging, Emotional Read July 28, 2009
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's always rewarding for me to read something of quality from an emerging writer and Victoria Patterson is a great example. "Drift" is not really what it purports to be, it's actually a novel built from various viewpoints of characters in the story line. The timeline is somewhat jumbled, so you get pieces here and there of their intertwined histories, like flipping through a series of diaries.

Patterson's handling of several difficult subjects (drug addiction, sex addiction, prostitution, incest, rape, runaways on the street) is done with a careful and emotional hand. The writing is so close to the bone in some places, it's as if she's gone through several of these things herself and is writing from her own history. Her characters are all fully fleshed-out, you get a definite mental picture of each and they stay with you. I've been thinking about specific ones for two weeks after I've finished the book. That rarely happens to me.

As a long time reader, I've only been brought to tears only three times by the written word. Once was a story in 1980s Esquire by Bob Greene about a murderer's confession. Once was in Cormac McCarthy's "All the Pretty Horses". And here, once again by Ms. Patterson in the touching chapter about a homeless skateboarder who receives a form of love from an old woman who lets him "sneak" into her house, eat a meal and sleep in one of the homes beds on a weekly basis. Some really well-handled, emotional stuff written from a place of deep connections. I'm a sucker for charity, especially when given to those who are damaged beyond help.

I highly recommend this book. I only wish it would have been longer so that I was still in the middle of reading it instead of currently trying to do it justice with this review.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Collection of Stories
Victoria Patterson has woven together a collection of short stories set in and around Newport Beach. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Kitt O'Malley
2.0 out of 5 stars Drift: Stories
The chapter segments on their own were well-written and intriguing. The book, however, failed to spin these chapter segments together into a worth-while story. Read more
Published on June 28, 2012 by Amethyst Daisies
1.0 out of 5 stars I Hated It!!! ... Honestly ... !!!
" ... " I was a student of hers once and her book is about as much of an honest and moving portrait as a based on a true story ... The use of a character, named John Wayne " ... Read more
Published on May 23, 2012 by Echezona Udeze
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, stories not so much linked
as geographically created so they seem to slip by one another like physical realities that lie side by side. Read more
Published on June 7, 2010 by J. Shoemaker
3.0 out of 5 stars It's ok
Not all that impressive a read...I had expected some sort of common thread, but this was too choppy...
Published on April 20, 2010 by Isabelle
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting....
I throughly enjoyed this book, didn't take me long to finish and the time just sped by!
Published on November 5, 2009 by Rashchupkina
4.0 out of 5 stars Short story bliss
I'm a big fan of the genre of short story. I especially enjoy stories that share a common thread, idea or even characters. Read more
Published on October 23, 2009 by Daniel B. Slocum
5.0 out of 5 stars Voyeuristic character development, at its best
Like discarded objects polluting an idyllic ocean view, the characters in Drift float, also somewhat discarded, through an otherwise pristine beach town... Read more
Published on August 27, 2009 by Chandler
1.0 out of 5 stars Drift is more like Sludge
What at first appear to be a series of short stories turns out to actually be a disjointed novel. Jumping narration from first person to third, each chapter is about the people... Read more
Published on August 24, 2009 by Sadie
5.0 out of 5 stars Provocative California Stories
I found these intertwined, sexually provocative stories to be very entertaining. You really get a feeling of Ocean,sunshine and the California feeling when reading this book of... Read more
Published on August 12, 2009 by Glenn
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More About the Author

Victoria Patterson is the author of The Little Brother. She is also the author of the novels The Peerless Four and This Vacant Paradise, a 2011 New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice. Her story collection, Drift, was a finalist for the California Book Award, the 2009 Story Prize, and was selected as one of the best books of 2009 by The San Francisco Chronicle. She lives with her family in Southern California and teaches at Antioch University's Master of Fine Arts program.

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