Fiction. By turns graphic, funny, and moving, thes urban tales present characters who are teetering on the edge. Indifferent or absent lovers, drinking and smoking too much, loneliness, paranoia, a desire that is always fresh. In spite of the facts, rage, and obsession -- this is the macabre landscape of these unrestrained stories.
Primarily a poet, having published two volumes of verse, Addonizio collects her fiction for this debut. It's familiar bad-girl stuff - sex and sadism set mostly in San Francisco - and dependent on all the no-longer-shocking gestures: vulgar language, kinky acts, voyeurism, fellatio, masturbation, etc. There's nothing particularly poetic about Addonizio's 22 pieces of affectless prose, though the six one-pagers display a certain narrative concision: a drunken woman calls her ex-husband, who wants to reunite; an AIDS sufferer hopes he dies before his lover; a man abandoned by his wife goes stir-crazy listening to passionate lovers upstairs; two drunken brawlers eventually make it to their wedding; a Vietnam vet mutters to himself on the street; and a married man visits a prostitute abroad. Addonizio's longer efforts seldom sustain themselves, though three stories about the same people ("Inside Out," "Scores," and "Angels") stumble toward something significant. All concern a rape victim named Fran, who as a child was also abused by her stepfather and now cannot find fulfillment in a normal relationship. A bit agoraphobic, she depends on her boyfriend, Loren, even though she's additionally having kinky sex with his best friend, Sasha, who eventually ends the affair but tells Loren first, so Fran panics. Club-hopping with a pal, Fran picks up a guy for good anonymous sex. Horny women people many of these bland tales: One finds a dildo on the street ("The Gift") and, after trying it out, wakes up as a man; another embarrasses herself trying to seduce a student; yet another confesses she's a slut who drinks too much ("Testimony"). A pseudo-encyclopedia article on condoms wears out its joke quickly, and an homage to Susan Sontag fails to raise the level of discourse here. A perfunctory nod to William Burroughs - de rigueur for transgressives of Addonizio's ilk - suggests just how ordinary this sort of writing has become. Few shocks and little value. (Kirkus Reviews)