SIXTY-CENT COFFEE AND A QUARTER TO DANCE

Judy Jordan, Author . Louisiana State Univ. $27.95 (80p) ISBN 978-0-8071-2995-1 ISBN 978-0-8071-2996-8

Departing fiercely from her landscape-oriented debut, Jordan's second volume remembers her time working at a pizza joint, "sleeping/ in my truck or if it's winter in empty buildings," mingling with prostitutes and junkies, and trying to understand the inner torments of the immigrants with whom she worked, among them the restaurant's Greek owner, Chris. Jordan tries repeatedly to imagine herself into Chris's childhood in a village ravaged by Nazi atrocities, its "streets filling up with the dead." More impressive and more detailed are pages devoted to Jordan's own "days without food," when she "grabbed bread crusts off deserted plates," "slept in abandoned buildings, and carried/ all I owned slung in a backpack." Jordan compares these struggles to the even more serious troubles of her brother (who stayed at home after she ran away) and of her acquaintance Princess, "on the streets again" with "her needle-scarred skin": "You don't get out of that life, not alive." Though rarely subtle, Jordan's imagination proves consistently effective in its efforts to dramatize these tough lives; "I search for that which will give us all names," she announces, and most of her search succeeds. The title refers to "all-night deli" with "sixty-cent coffee and free refills/ as long as you stay awake." (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/04/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
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Hardcover - 80 pages - 978-0-8071-2995-1
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