1: What is most striking about your books is the style, your compression of line and event. Whereas many realists go for the long line, the expansive book, you have moved in the opposite direction. And yet, realism is never lost. How did your style come about? There are echoes of Algren, Farrell, Borges, Dos Passos, but its always you.
Stream-of-consciousness went for the flow of the mind, of thought; I am trying for the flow of action, of events. I don’t think most of us – especially in this “Information Age” – live our lives in a smooth and continuous narrative arc. Particularly not the poor – people without power who must react to the actions of others, rather than have the opportunity to initiate. So my style has emerged from how I see and hear and experience street life, as it were. The influences you cite are definitely there, but also Selby, Genet, Mary Robison (among contemporaries), Guyotat, Iceberg Slim, Beckett…I think we need a kind of “street Beckett” to reflect life as it is lived now…
Quand on aime on compte pas, donc un petit entretien tout frais, traduit par Undead avec un grand écrivain
1. The Streets of LA:
I don’t live in the toughest part of Los Angeles. But I do work there – Compton, Watts, East LA. I have three kids and I would have been anxious about raising them in some of the areas that I work in.
My work as an organizer in inner city neighborhoods does indeed influence my work. On my job, I deal in hope. There is much talent, joy and spirit in the urban core.
But there are bleak moments as well. As a writer, I feel I must bear witness to that – to try to depict what most people want to ignore…(February 2013)
Can you tell us about your childhood and how you came to write Angry Nights?
I grew up in a neighborhood very much like the places I describe in my books. One step above public housing. I got an education, and got out. Most of my friends didn’t. But, in addition to growing up in a working class community, I have also worked primarily in South Los Angeles – Watts, Compton, etc. – for almost 25 years… (June 12 2012)
Is there a reading of this story that has the title “Heroine Girl”?
Yes, definitely. I was only hoping it wouldn’t be too obvious, or cliched, or taken too much as a pun. Rather to imply that all things are black and white, not black or white. Outcasts have always been good to me. (Though I do confess to always loving that particular homophone: heroin/heroine.)…