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A day in the life of an Atlanta, Georgia, sliding toward oblivion.

Taking the interwoven narrative strands of Traffic and setting it all within a single day, second-novelist Kingsbury (The Summer Fletcher Greel Loved Me, 2002) paints a portrait of despair, a junkie’s tale that doesn’t skimp on the details. The eponymous Gracey used to be married to “The Rocket,” once one of the biggest dealers in all of Atlanta, and now she’s been picked up on one of those inner-city police drug sweeps that resemble a military assault. Locked in an interrogation room with two cops hungry for names and information, she settles her addict self into the chair, demands cigarettes and attention, and tells nothing less than the sad story of her life. Intercut between Gracey’s operatic woes are the stories of some of the others caught up in the Atlanta drug game. Deneeka, the cross-dresser from Detroit with a hideous family past, turns tricks and delivers drugs, while Frazier and Audrey are a teenaged couple from the privileged mansions of Buckhead looking to escape their parents and getting a serious habit on the way. Other people enter the sordidness, most importantly Frazier and Audrey’s parents, still carrying on the destructive affair that’s mirrored in their children, whom they’re ostensibly so concerned about. Kingsbury obviously did her homework into the mechanics of the drug trade and the details of addicts’ lives, lending the story a docudrama authenticity. But docudrama it remains, and there’s something perhaps too precious about this set-up, with all the interconnected stories being told in one day. Additionally, Audrey—her situation being rendered with so much more passion than those of the other junkies—is problematic in making the tale seem more concerned about this pampered Buckhead child than about the horrors being meted out to anyone else.

Melodrama of the highest sort, occasionally shrill but still attention-worthy.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-7432-2305-5
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2003