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My Dreams Out in the Street: A Novel Hardcover – July 3, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Harsh 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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From Booklist

Love was not enough to keep Rita and Jimmy's marriage together, and now Rita is alone and homeless on the streets of San Francisco with no clue to the fate of her husband. Her few belongings in a bag, she tries to stay smart and safe, but she is burdened with the sort of beauty that makes men want to hurt her, and many have, beginning with the wretch who murdered her mother. As Rita's search for Jimmy devolves into a desperate scramble to stay alive, Addonizio, a poet and novelist writing with singeing intensity in this lip-biting yet strangely lyrical tale of survival, reveals how easily lives can come disastrously undone. Acutely aware of the tyranny of desire, and of the violence percolating within so many men, Addonizio creates mesmerizing characters. Some are pure evil; others, especially a private investigator just a breath away from criminality, combustibly complex. As she tells this bluesy tale of bad luck and addiction, sleazy hotels and sexual violence, biblical rain and sudden reprieves, Addonizio zeroes in on the power of love and life's insistence. Seaman, Donna
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (July 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743297725
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743297721
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,799,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kim Addonizio is a fiction writer, poet, and teacher. Her poetry collections include Tell Me, a finalist for the National Book Award, What Is This Thing Called Love, and Lucifer at the Starlite. She lives in Oakland, California.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert McDowell on November 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel set in 1990's San Francisco is a grim, painful look at what life can be like for those who enter the big old world already behind the proverbial eight ball, perhaps having suffered tortured upbringings, and expected to survive with no useful education or job skills. The author makes no effort to sugarcoat an existence of drifting in the streets, sleeping on grates or in parks with the fear of violence ever present, often forced into turning tricks in the most disgusting of situations, and succumbing to the temporary, numbing relief found in a bottle or needle.

This is the setting for twenty-something Rita Jackson, who finally ends up in San Fran still with the psychic wounds from her mother's murder and her own abuse. An attractive girl, she survives for a while as an exotic dancer and even marries the good looking Jimmy D'Angelo. But their drug use and fighting eventually overwhelms their genuine love, resulting in their literally losing contact and her life sinking ever downward.

It is truly discomforting to see the vulnerability of those with no protective resources (giving the lie to "nothing left to lose"): being attacked while sleeping, having their meager belongings and last dollar stolen, or more generally finding themselves in environments that are illicit with a threat of harm attached. Rita witnesses a crime in a seedy hotel and now must protect herself against the perpetrator as well the possibility of being accused of involvement. Fortunately, a sympathetic investigator Gary Shepard finds his way to Rita, but her fragile beauty gives him a chance to escape his dying marriage.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By milestogob4Isleep on March 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have been a fan of Kim Addonizio's work for several years now. I own and have read almost all of her poetry and fiction. Her latest novel "My Dreams Out in the Street" amplifies her versatility as a poet and fiction writer. She is an inspiration to any woman who seeks to write vivid and honest stories or poems.
I finished this book in three days and later felt bad for going through it so fast, but it was that compelling. The pictures she paints of Jimmy and Rita's lives are gritty and beautiful at the same time. The reader feels every thing that they feel with Addonizio's precise, descriptive language. I highly recommend this book as well as her other works. She'll have you hooked.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on July 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Desperate times call for desperate measures, so the saying goes. But what if, in your desperation, you are alone, with nothing but the clothes on your back? And, then, what if you lose those clothes, too? Such are the desperate times of 24-year-old Rita Jackson, who finds herself homeless on the streets of San Francisco, trying to avoid heroin and prostituting herself for money for booze, cigarettes and cheap motel rooms. Rita is the sad, lonely and unforgettable protagonist of Kim Addonizio's new novel, MY DREAMS OUT IN THE STREET.

After a nasty fight, Rita's husband, the dashing and only slightly less dysfunctional Jimmy, storms out of their apartment. By the time we meet them a year later, they have lost each other in the city. Rita circles the city, visiting the places they frequented together. She has lost everything in the previous year, starting with her husband, until she is homeless and strung out --- with no money, no ID and eventually no clothes. She is haunted by her past --- a childhood filled with abandonment, rape, abuse and even murder. Without Jimmy (and even with him), she drinks to numb herself but feels guilty and ashamed of her actions and even for the things done against her.

Jimmy is looking for Rita, but with less intensity as Rita's search for him. He is working as a waiter in a fancy restaurant and has an apartment where he can listen to his blues records. He hangs out in bars with friends, trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to stay out of trouble. He gets a tattoo with Rita's name under a heart, but twice he sees her, disheveled and alone on the street, and doesn't go to her. He, too, is overcome with guilt and shame.
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