‘Street Chronicles: A Woman’s Work’

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A mere eight-hour day has been a dream of yours for years.

Just eight hours of work? That would be heaven. As it is, you hit the floor running when the alarm clock goes off and you don’t stop until you flop into bed at night.

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An 18 hour workday is more like it for you but you’re a woman and you can handle it. If you can’t, well, four authors tell you how to do it in the new book “Nikki Turner Presents Street Chronicles: A Wo­man’s Work.” You’ll learn how to handle things—but you might not like how it goes down.

All her life, Melissa James wanted nothing more than to be a famous R&B singer. At age 16, she defied her parents, joined an R&B girl-group, began sleeping with her boyfriend, and was surprised when Rev. and Mrs. James kicked their disobedient daughter out of the house. But in “Dying to Be a Star,” by Keisha Starr, Melissa never learns patience or control until the time comes when fame is almost fatal.

Mama Bev Woods was beloved in her neighborhood. She was an honorary grandmother to many, and mother to Aisha, Kayla and Terry. So when Mama Bev was beaten to death by three thugs looking for drugs, it was only a matter of time before there’d be revenge—especially since Kayla was a “hood legend” and girlfriend of the man who currently ruled the streets. But in “Money, Stilettos and Disrespect” by Tysha, the revenge came from an unlikely source.

Madame C ran her brothel with an iron fist, promising her girls that if they worked hard, she would set them up after they “retired.” But because gorgeous Abie brought home more money and more new recruits, there was no way she’d be let out of her contract. In “Southern Girls’ Escort Service” by Lakesa Cox, Abie was going to quit The Life, do or die.

And if your man was unable to run his business, would you run it for him? In “Ms. G-Stacks” by Monique S. Hall, that’s what Taylor Dixon did. And she did it with brains, beauty, and a nine-millimeter Glock.

Like other books in the Street Chronicles series, hip-hop author Nikki Turner pulled together a few writer gal-pals to create this anthology. When you start it, hang on to your seat—but be warned.

Harsh, raw, nasty, violent, hot as flame, and oh-so-fun, “Street Chronicles: A Woman’s Work” is escapist literature at its’ finest. But, while the characters here are mostly easy to like (and are surely easy to sympathize with), I thought the violence in this book was sometimes unnecessarily gruesome and possibly stomach-turning. That can tend to distract from the story—and yet, these novellas are set in the streets, which you know ain’t gonna be pretty…

(“Nikki Turner Presents Street Chronicles: A Woman’s Work,” edited by Nikki Turner, c.2011, Ballantine Books, $14/$16 Canada, 242 pages.)

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