New Amazon Review

Posted: April 14, 2015 in Dialog, Prose
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
4 out of 5 Stars
on April 14, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition

 

I just finished this fine work by a very astute observer of “street life.” Mr. Cardiff’s interactions hit a few nerves for me, as well as rekindled memories of my own experiences with similar people in a different time and place.I was immediately drawn into the writer’s humanity, and kindness as he delved into the dilemmas inherent in these never intended lifestyles. One could sense throughout the winding story his empathy with so many of these lives unable to lift themselves away from the constant downward pull of a gravity set in motion in their youth. The conversations begin with an act of simple kindness by Mr. Cardiff to a lady he sees on the street. He recollects his own living on the edge at various times in his life, and that no doubt allows him to not judge harshly the people who presently come before him.

The story is inhabited by struggling characters of different ages and backgrounds— Hippo, Weasel, Shakes, Antonio, and Toothless Chuck populate the narrative.

The grimness of their lives for me is encapsulated in this brief passage as Mr. Cardiff turns his attention to Joy, the most recurring figure in Gotta Find a Home:

“She has cracked cartilage in her nose with a gash across the bridge, two black eyes and pneumonia in both lungs. Her boyfriend, Big Jake, who is six foot, three and weighs over two hundred pounds, punched her in the face when she wouldn’t give him oral sex (she couldn’t breathe through her nose because of the pneumonia). He left her on the sidewalk in a pool of blood. A month ago he kicked her to the point that her whole right side was bruised; she had two cracked and two fractured ribs. In both cases she phoned the police, so hopefully this time he will be in jail a long time.
I sat with her, gave her a big hug and let her vent. “I love Big Jake, but I have to take care of myself. I can’t be somebody’s punching bag. One day he’s going to kill me.”

One first pained reaction was “BUT SHE LOVES HIM?” How many times have we encountered implausibly connected couples in polite restaurant settings—he badgering her, bullying intellectually, slightly derisive.” What does she see in him,” we ask ourselves. Yet here is a woman declaring her love for a terrible brute, not just a smarmy guy belittling his partner as the tiramisu is brought to the table.

I mentioned my own connection—I worked in the New York City Social Services on the Lower East Side long before its gentrification. It was a time when heroin was easier to find than the Pinot Noir now served in the outdoor cafes. Mr. Cardiff’s sharp characterizations brought me back to that time—unlike his occasional Inuit Native American lost in a Toronto that has no resemblance to his barren birthplace, the inhabitants of my Lower East Side experience were also cut adrift in the same way. They may have come from Puerto Rico and spoke a stumbling English, or a farm boy from Kansas still reeling from Viet Nam.

Whether it’s the Toronto street people of this era’s oxycotin and crack cocaine or the Lower East Side of heroin and pre-AIDS, all of these people have a voice similar in its despair.

I recommend this book—it is an entrance to a world we see everyday, but rarely stop to engage.

Comments
  1. Powerful peace! Thank you for sharing! You write very well.

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  2. todessakane2013 says:

    To many people remain hidden in plain sight, ignored, unloved, unprotected. It heartbreaking to say the least. Thank you for sharing such a beautifully written thought provoking piece it truly made me think. God bless you lots today and always, keep up the wonderful work 🙂

    Like

  3. […] Source: New Amazon Review […]

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