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Stateway's Garden: Stories

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  201 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Before being torn down in 2007, the Stateway Gardens public housing projects on Chicago’s South Side were ridden with deprivation and crime. But for some, like Tracy, the shy, intelligent young boy at the center of this enthralling collection of linked stories, they are simply home. Set in the mid-1980s and taking readers up to the point of the destruction of the infamous ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 2020 by Random House
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All of the stories revolve around or are somehow related to Tracy and Jacob, two brothers growing up in the Stateway Gardens.
Tracey and his older brother, Jacob, know nothing other than growing up in Chicago’s building project the Stateway Gardens. Surrounded by crime and poverty, Tracy holds on tight to his dreams of a bright future. While some see the building as a symbol of failure, Tracy remembers it as his only home.

Initially, the stories were hard to get into it. I had a hard time reading
Brown Girl Reading
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This debut work, Stateway’s Garden, is a coming of age story of two black boys growing up in the projects of the same name on the South Side of Chicago. Tracy and his brother Jacob are the central characters in this series of linked short stories set in this melancholic community. Each story depicts the harsh reality for blacks living in these public housing projects. Jasmon Drain’s writing is full of lively dialogue and in depth stories of meaningful characters placed in situations ranging from ...more
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
We expect certain things to take place in "hood" stories, because of books that often get published and movies that are greenlit in Hollywood. You probably expect some violence, some gang shit, a bunch of trauma, You know... The usual, stereotypical soup. Stateway, is a refreshing take on life in the projects.

Stateway's Garden is a linked short story collection (something that seems to be happening more and more). Linked mainly through the narrator of most of our stories; Tracy. He, the smart br
Kasa Cotugno
These linked stories bring the reader right into the lives of the inhabitants of a housing project located in the South Side, a housing project built with lofty expectations, post WWII, in which many who experienced the Great Migration attempted to set up futures. As the inevitable happened, drugs and gang warfare, the apartments were eventually razed. The stories are well told, varied in approach, and Jasmon Drain who has apparently lived most if not all his life on the South Side, breathes lif ...more
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Not sure why there wasn't more buzz about this one. ...more
Laura Hoffman Brauman
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Stateway's Garden is a collection of linked short stories, mostly about 2 brothers growing up in projects in the south side of Chicago . Drain doesn't shy away from the rough parts of living there, and those challenges are certainly a part of his story -- but what really drives this collection for me is the sense of community and friendship that is also present. ...more
Brian Lavery
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I learned about this book from a brief write up in the Chicago Tribune. This was an excellent short story collection set in a near South Side housing project, in the 80's. This book has no unbelievable plot twists or stereotypical characters. It just has great, interconnected vignettes that really develop interesting characters that rarely make it into fiction. I highly recommend this. ...more
Alison Hardtmann
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This is a collection of tightly linked short stories about a curious, intelligent boy named Tracy, growing up in a Chicago housing project with his older brother and his mother. Stateway Gardens is both a trap and a community. A place with fantastic views of Lake Michigan and Comiskey Park that segregates its residents from the city around them. In these stories, Tracy follows his brother around, skips school and endures his first bus ride to a new, more academically challenging school. His brot ...more
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley-read
Book Review: Stateway’s Garden: Stories
Author: Jasmon Drain
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: January 21, 2020
Review Date: January 16, 2020

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

From the blurb:
“Before being torn down in 2007, the Stateway Gardens public housing projects on Chicago’s South Side were ridden with deprivation and crime. But for some, like Tracy, the shy, intelligent young boy at the center of this enthralling collection of linked st
stateway gardens, cabrini-green or robert taylor homes all share a similar story in their foundation. public housing intentionally created to house white, middle-class, lower-middle-class families.

but as the story goes black folks were steered into institutional living in which they had no opportunity for ownership and were thus denied a path followed. and as Jasmon Drain does in Stateway's Garden he tells the stories of the lives within those walls.

Drain's ability to write solely about the li
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
*3.75 stars.
"Said he saw stupid people doing stupid-people things while trying to teach him stupider lessons" (4).
His breath smelled like he smoked three cigarettes at a time" (97).
"...a large Fender speaker with various cords dangling like tentacles" (98).
"He sat in a position you wouldn't believe a man with testicles could in such a cramped space..." (99).
"Iowa wind felt different from anything I'd experienced in Chicago. It didn't maintain a consistent force, nor was it even strong enough to
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Read this. Superb debut. A new favorite. I hope jasmon keeps writing because I love his voice !!
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Engaging fictional stories centered around two brothers growing up in Chicago's Stateway Gardens before it was demolished in 2007. Easy to read and a fine debut novel by Chicago resident Jasmon Drain focusing on black lives chasing broken dreams, creating friendships and family and getting into mischief. Even when these characters move away from Stateway Gardens, their minds and hearts seem to gravitate towards their past lives in the youth growing up in this one complex. Loved this book! ...more
Nov 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, short-stories, race
A life told in a series of short stories, seen through the eyes of residents of Stateway Gardens. A public housing project situated adjacent to the expressway in South Side Chicago. 

I don't know how I feel about this book.

There were times when I felt extremely in touch with a character and then a few pages later I would feel completely detached.I felt as though I never really got to know any of them and it made it difficult to see the world through their eyes. 

This may be the format of the book.
Elizabeth Campbell
Nov 29, 2019 rated it liked it
thank you to Random House and Goodreads Giveaways for this ARC. definitely not the kind of book i'd usually pick up, i found the episodic style made it really hard for me to get into this one. ultimately i had to push myself to keep reading it, not because i didn't like it but because i found it boring. each chapter is a separate story that is linked to all the others but there was no sense of a "story" about this book for me. ...more
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
A wonderful, interconnected short story collection set in the projects on Chicago's South Side. ...more
The epilogue in this book describes how Stateway’s Garden, a violent poverty-stricken housing development in Chicago, was going to be demolished. It tried to show how camaraderie and a sense of community led to many residents fighting against the demolition. That was interesting, since the rest of the book offered no such images of anyone living in the housing development having such affection for it or each other. (Online articles can be found about such individuals, however.) This novel, which ...more
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it

Our mothers take credit, but in Stateway we raised ourselves.”

The author of this book is a Pushcart award winner which is an award given to short story writers. This book isn’t a novel. It’s a series of short story writers about a group of characters growing up in Stateway’s Gardens, a Chicago public housing project. The stories aren’t linear. They go back and forth in time and the main characters interact in various ways.

We meet the main characters as children as they go to the local community
Feb 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
This is a highly underrated and gorgeously written short story collection.

Set in a Chicago housing project, these linked stories take you through the trials and tribulations of two young brothers, and pays homage to lives and dreams of the Black residents that called Stateway home.

In the 1950’s the city of Chicago viewed housing developments like Stateway as the future of living, but political machinery and racism are a constant thread in US history, so when the vision died the city made the dec
Feb 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stateway Gardens is an outstanding fictional account of the different people you might encounter if you lived or visited the massive Chicago housing project complexes like Cabrini Greens or Robert Taylor Homes on the southside.

The stories are rich, engaging, and plausible. The author gives the people of the community hopes, dreams, good days, and trying periods. You witness the humanity of people trying to do better for themselves and their children. I appreciate the unique storylines and that
Jun 16, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 This is a series of connected stories kind of like House on Mango Street without the poetics, but with each chapter having the option to stand alone, yet being more filled out when read in context together. Tracy, the main narrator is a young boy living in the Stateway Gardens projects with his half-brother Jacob and his single mother who works hard to keep them fed and safe. Tracy is her "smart son" and Jacob is the "pretty one" and this designation by their mother seems to be self-fulfilli ...more
Bradley Morgan
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
Set in the Stateway Gardens housing projects in the Chicago neighborhood of Bronzeville during the mid-1980s, Drain’s collection of short stories about the interconnected lives in these projects is poignant, devastating, and vibrantly human. A coming-of-age story, we see the world of poverty and violence through the lens of childhood. Though the projects are seemingly lifeless, it is the people and their dreams, hopes, and failures that breathe life into them and into the community it houses and ...more
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. Jasmon Drain writes about a Chicago housing project with the same incisiveness as August Wilson wrote about Pittsburg. Drain presents Safeway Gardens interlocking stories from the viewpoint of its young, intelligent reporter on the scene, Tracy. He lives in the Gardens with his mother and brother, she, distant and self-obsessed, he, aimless and disenchanted with his life. Drain reminds us that Safeway Gardens was home to people trying to survive, to provide for their children, ...more
Christa Van
May 04, 2020 rated it liked it
A coming of age story set in the projects in Chicago. Stateway's Garden is a real place that was eventually torn down. Most of these stories revolve around two brothers, Tracy and Jacob. They are dealing with the ravages of poverty, a mom who is always working and the absent fathers, each mostly unknown to their sons. The dialog is realistic and relatable. The situations are not always relatable but that is the point, I think. The audio is well done by a small cast. ...more
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Well written short stories. The stories were so closely connected it read more like a novel and sometimes made reading each a little confusing, especially the later ones. That is why the 4 rating and not a 5. At the end wondered why the stories weren’t made into a novel given the main characters were part of almost all the stories. Will be interesting to see what the author does next, novel or short story collection again?
Jul 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Well-written collection of inter-related short stories based on the Chicago Housing Authority's long gone Stateway's Garden project. Most of the collection is narrated by the young resident, Tracy, and features stories of his mother, brother, and their lives in the project. The last story, narrated by Tracy's brother, Jacob, was the most touching.
Be sure to read the epilogue: The Battle of Segregation, 1958-2007.
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This collection of short stories gives readers an opportunity to experience living in one of Chicago’s most dismal housing projects as an insider—through the experiences, thoughts and feelings of several inhabitants. They are all trying to survive, making compromises, settling, rationalizing, resisting and surrendering. The desperation of their lives is the result of institutionalized racist policies and practices.
Jan 02, 2021 rated it liked it
A story about fictional characters who live in the once real project complex on Chicago's south side called Stateway Garden. Stateway Garden was demolished in 2007 making room for gentrification in the area. The characters are well written and though most of the story is about people living in grim poverty there are times when they make you smile in appreciation of their determination and guts to survive and seek a better life, especially for their children. ...more
Chet Taranowski
Mar 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
Here are a series of short stories which are all thematically tied together. What I liked about the book is the fact that the author didn't sensationalize life in the Chicago Housing Authority "projects." He just told the mundane, but heartfelt, stories of daily living for people in this community. ...more
Apr 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
A collection of interlinked short stories set in and around the Stateway Gardens housing projects on Chicago's South Side. The narration was excellent and the stories were engrossing--I blazed through this audiobook in a day and a half. ...more
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