In selecting Suzanne Greenberg's manuscript as the winner of this year's Drue Heinz Literature Prize, Rick Moody wrote, "Though we live in homely computer-designed subdivisions or gated communities, drive fuel-inefficient cars, ... and shop at gigantic chain stores, ... our fiction depicts tender-hearted pacifists fly-fishing in great expanses of wilderness or trust-funded socialites worrying about the state of the world while doing drugs in Park Avenue apartments. Speed-Walk replies forcefully to this aesthetic error by locating its protagonists in completely recognizable environments, ... ever engaged by the routines of American life."
With gracefully simple prose, Greenberg creates characters who are at once eccentric and hearteningly familiar. Seven-year-old Royce wonders if mermaids would ever visit a motel pool, and attempts to perfect his own swimming technique using fractions -- a new math concept about which he remains skeptical.
A weary young mother momentarily sees with eyes of innocence as she watches her young son meet a second-rate clown: "He smiled shyly up at her, too awed to even touch her silky, pink pantaloons, which I knew this kid was absolutely dying to do. My son didn't know anything about money yet. He thought grown-ups were motivated strictly by desire, ... Daddy goes to work because it makes him feel good, we lied."
A newlywed finds herself honeymooning at a theme park with her young husband, where she is dismayed to discover that he collects motel condiment bottles and is missing a toe. She wonders what other strange secrets and disappointments the future may reveal.
Although unsure how they ended up where they are in life, Greenberg's protagonists are united by a common quest to set things right. This forward-looking attitude inspires a sense, not of despair, but of incipient redemption in our mixed-up modern world.
About the Author
Suzanne Greenberg is the coauthor of Everyday Creative Writing: Panning for Gold in the Kitchen Sink. Her fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in numerous publications including Mississippi Review,the Washington Post Magazine, and West Branch. She is an associate professor of English at California State University, Long Beach.
Table of Contents
|The Yes Button||9|
|The Queen of Laundry||20|
|Repeat After Me||59|
|A Good Bet||95|
|You Can't Dance||101|
|My Treat, Geronimo||108|