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The Waterfront Journals


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With a raw, empathic ventriloquism, Wojnarowicz (who died of AIDS in 1992) fashions monologues from his encounters with hobos, truckers, hustlers and junkies he met during his years of cross-country travel. Using a stream-of-consciousness first-person prose style, Wojnarowicz (Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration) deftly draws upon the vernacular and cadences of street life. "Guy on 2nd Avenue 1:00 a.m." is delivered in one extended sentence, capturing the breathless urgency of the speaker. In other cases, staggered punctuation emphasizes the rambling quality of verbal recall. Because these stories are told as though the narrators were speaking directly to the reader, the tales of desperation, degeneracy and unsavory circumstances often lack a context or any type of resolution. Only the last two entries in the collection, both told in the author's own first-person narrative, explore more fully the themes of alienation and physical loneliness just touched upon in the preceding monologues. Most of the pieces succeed more as snapshots-dark corners of society illuminated with a strobe light. (June)

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