An unnamed male narrator has hit the road. Rid of any possible identifiers, his possessions amount to $168,548 in cash stashed in an envelope under his car seat. Vigilantly avoiding security cameras, he drives until he hits a city where his past is unlikely to track him down, and finds a room to rent from a less-than-stable landlady whose need for money outweighs her desire to ask questions. He seems to have escaped his former self. But can he?
Dee is a risk taker...and his restless, adventurous, at times reckless approach is nowhere more evident than in his latest roll of the dice: the taut, bare-bones, not entirely user-friendly Sugar Street ... Bleak as all this may sound, it’s in the methodical unpacking of how a human being might effectively cease to exist without actually committing suicide that Sugar Street is at its most enthralling ... The tension of Dee’s novel, especially in the closing pages, arises less from concern for X’s fate (we’ve been fairly confident, pretty much from the jump, that things won’t turn out well) than the narrative’s increasingly divided loyalties between down-and-dirty realism and the stylized, moody, hard-boiled punch of noir. Naturalism triumphs in the end — appropriately so, I’d say — but at a price. Clothing a story in the elegant trappings of crime fiction, a genre as dogmatic as it is beloved, only to dispense with the expected genre payoff is risky, to put it mildly.
An intense character study of a man in crisis. It's a bleak tale of someone running from a troubled past into an equally perilous future, and Dee succeeds in maintaining the tension about his character's fate throughout ... A precisely drawn portrait of the near futility of attempting to lead a life totally off the grid ... With the skill of a virtuoso, Dee plays his character's shifting voice over its full emotional range--cunning, desperate, cynical, resigned and more ... At barely more than 200 pages, Sugar Street is a novel that easily can be consumed in a single sitting. But that brevity is deceptive, because it's far from a simple book, and the feeling of unease it induces makes it an unsettling reading experience.
A story of the desperation and ultimate impossibility of isolation, Dee’s narrative is a spider web of questions that won’t let readers go, questions like where does insanity begin and end? Readers of Dee’s earlier novels will not want to miss this page-turner.