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Drift: Stories by Victoria Patterson

Drift: Stories by Victoria Patterson

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From a fresh new Southern California voice comes this wise and intimate debut collection that offers a fascinating glimpse of exclusive Newport Beach through the lives of the waiters and waitresses, divorced and single parents, and alienated teens who all, in some way, find themselves on the outside looking in. "Henry’s House" introduces us to Melody and Katharine, single mothers who raised their daughters together—until Melody marries for money, sacrificing herself so that her mother and Katharine can enjoy the luxuries her beauty has earned them all. "Remoras" probes the transformative friendship between John, a waiter of ambiguous sexual proclivities, and Annette, the restaurant’s hostess, who has promised herself to a fellow Armenian. And then there’s Rosie, whose evolution from a lonely child of divorce to precocious teenager, alcoholic college student, and eventual career waitress provides heartbreaking punctuation to this linked collection. Deceptively powerful and refreshingly frank, Patterson’s stories—like those of ZZ Packer, Julie Orringer, and Nell Freudenberger—plumb the depths of female friendship and what it means to be an outsider, all while offering a rare and rewarding glimpse inside affluent Newport Beach.
From a fresh new Southern California voice comes this wise and intimate debut collection that offers a fascinating glimpse of exclusive Newport Beach through the lives of the waiters and waitresses, divorced and single parents, and alienated teens who all, in some way, find themselves on the outside looking in. "Henry’s House" introduces us to Melody and Katharine, single mothers who raised their daughters together—until Melody marries for money, sacrificing herself so that her mother and Katharine can enjoy the luxuries her beauty has earned them all. "Remoras" probes the transformative friendship between John, a waiter of ambiguous sexual proclivities, and Annette, the restaurant’s hostess, who has promised herself to a fellow Armenian. And then there’s Rosie, whose evolution from a lonely child of divorce to precocious teenager, alcoholic college student, and eventual career waitress provides heartbreaking punctuation to this linked collection. Deceptively powerful and refreshingly frank, Patterson’s stories—like those of ZZ Packer, Julie Orringer, and Nell Freudenberger—plumb the depths of female friendship and what it means to be an outsider, all while offering a rare and rewarding glimpse inside affluent Newport Beach.

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Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on Apr 15, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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12/03/2014

 
 
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 39
Castaways
Michael rule, twenty-seven years
old and o cially sep-arated rom his wie or our days, woke Friday morning atnine-thirty to the buzzing o a digital alarm. The clock was onthe foor, and or a rightening second, he didn’t know whatthe shrill
hee hee hee
sound was, only that the noise emanatedrom the aded olive green carpet o an unurnished and una-miliar apartment.As Michael leaned over and turned o the alarm, an aware-ness moved through him like warm jelly pulsing through hisveins: today he needed to pick up his ve- year-old son, eigncontrol and manliness while explaining the separation and im-pending divorce, and answer Anthony’s questions, o which heknew there were typically a multitude. He imagined Anthony’sace trusting, earnest, worshipul and he elt helpless.Michael went over the acts: our days ago his wie, Penny,had conrmed that she was in love with Donald wealthy, es-tablished, his ather-in-law’s contemporary and business equal— and she wanted a divorce. (Ever since: rage, jealousy, bitter-ness, a reassessment o his masculinity and worth, and the
 
40
 
F
 
d r i f t
 bone-crushing dead weight o sorrow.) Thus ar ather-in-law, William Deader, hadn’t red him rom Deader Industrial LLC.The apartment was a ormer o ce overlooking NewportCar Wash, at the periphery o the Newport Beach shopping mecca Fashion Island. Deader Industrial LLC owned the prop-erty; Deader Industrial LLC owned Newport Car Wash. Theapartment was a concession, Michael believed, or Penny’s in-delity. But how long would Mr. and Mrs. Deader’s pity last,now that he hadn’t shown up to work and was ignoring Mr.Deader’s — Bill’s, Dad’s — phone calls?The last our days Michael had been going to bed (two mat-tresses stacked on the foor) at three, our in the morning,sleeping tully, and waking in the hazy sunlight near noon.He lay there or hours, listening to the sounds o the car wash below, aware that he had to persevere through another day, butunwilling to begin: held back by a keen disbelie and a pro-ound hurt at the power o circumstances to develop againsthis will.Once he got out o bed, he sat with his back against the walland studied the activity below, how the customers assembled,their backsides to him, on a cement bench and waited or themen to fag them with towels. Customers slipped cash (mostlydollar bills) into the men’s hands, and the men nodded, butrarely spoke, except to one another.Michael had discovered that the men had a system to alertone another o the periodic visitations o their manager, awhite man with a mustache. Upon spotting the manager de-scending three cement steps, the employee at the head o thecar wash snapped his towel, and the men successively snappedtheir towels down the line, until the last person got the signal.Naked, walking to the bathroom, hands cupping his groinas he passed the window, he caught a glimpse o the tan-

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