September 25, 2007

The Beggars' Shore by Zak Mucha

From the Asian shops on Argyle Street to the Darlington Arms to the religious community living in an old Wilson Avenue hotel, Uptown residents will recognize the landscape that inspired The Beggars’ Shore
Publisher's description: Chicago’s notorious Uptown neighborhood is the last stop on the down elevator, a dumping ground for people who have run out of road and choices. Joseph Askew, raised in a rigid and insular religious commune, walks out one day, searching. He starts his journey where the world’s failures end theirs.
The “Word” on which Joseph was raised plays differently on the streets. The teenager learns a new set of rules from his teachers: transvestite prostitutes, small-change thieves, ex-pimps, and other denizens of a bleak shadowland where every occupant is constantly shape-shifting between predator and prey. The only exit sign is double-arrow neon: the jailhouse or the graveyard.
The Beggars’ Shore is a story of pilgrimage, a journey where the destination is only “not here.” Joseph tries to carve out a place for himself while working at a liquor store and squatting in a dilapidated flat with his girlfriend and her drug habit. Waiting for his big payday from the man known only as “the Printer,” he dreams of building a future of his own. As the boy seeking manhood tries to gather the pieces of his life, he learns how much of the world can fall away from him. Evocative, powerful, and compelling, The Beggars’ Shore is a masterful debut.

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