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Om författaren

Novelist and short story writer Susan Straight graduated from Amherst College in 1984. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of California in Riverside. Aquaboogie, her first collection of short stories, won the Milkweed National Fiction Prize and was one of Publishers Weekly's best visa mer paperbacks (1990). I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots was named one of 1992's best novels by both Publishers Weekly and USA Today. It was also a New York Times Notable Book. (Bowker Author Biography) visa färre

Inkluderar namnet: Susan Straight

Verk av Susan Straight

Associerade verk

Unga kvinnor (1868) — Efterord, vissa utgåvor25,673 exemplar
The Future Dictionary of America (2004) — Bidragsgivare — 621 exemplar
The Best American Short Stories 2003 (2003) — Bidragsgivare — 459 exemplar
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The Best American Essays 2011 (2011) — Bidragsgivare — 221 exemplar
Los Angeles Noir (2007) — Bidragsgivare — 143 exemplar
Skin Deep: Black Women and White Women Write About Race (1602) — Bidragsgivare — 88 exemplar
USA Noir: Best of the Akashic Noir Series (2013) — Bidragsgivare — 80 exemplar
McSweeney's Issue 41 (McSweeney's Quarterly Concern) (2012) — Bidragsgivare — 76 exemplar
The Cocaine Chronicles (2005) — Bidragsgivare — 65 exemplar
Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave (2007) — Bidragsgivare — 63 exemplar
Granta 143: After the Fact (2018) — Bidragsgivare — 42 exemplar
Dream Me Home Safely: Writers on Growing Up in America (2003) — Bidragsgivare — 38 exemplar
Read Harder: Five More Years of Great Writing from the Believer (2014) — Bidragsgivare — 37 exemplar
Orange County Noir (2010) — Bidragsgivare — 30 exemplar
Drivel: Deliciously Bad Writing by Your Favorite Authors (2014) — Bidragsgivare — 27 exemplar
Race: An Anthology in the First Person (1997) — Bidragsgivare — 26 exemplar
Some of My Best Friends: Writings on Interracial Friendships (2005) — Bidragsgivare — 21 exemplar
Black Clock 21 (2016) — Bidragsgivare — 4 exemplar
Black Clock 19 (2014) — Bidragsgivare — 2 exemplar


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In this novel Straight looks at greater LA through a cast of characters--and all of these characters are linked somehow. These links aren't necessary to follow the story itself--but they are necessary to understand greater LA. We are all linked somehow, even if we don't know it or don't understand that this is true. This is not glitzy glamorous LA. This is the regular LA, where most of us here live.

Straight's characters include a Latino north OC native who grew up on a ranch and is now a CHP officer (and his family, longtime friends, fellow officers, and a mentor); Matelasse, a black and native woman whose family came from Louisiana (and her friends, children, ex-husband, co-workers); Ximena, a recently arrived undocumented immigrant (and her friends, family, co-workers, bosses); Bunny Goldman and her mother who married a wealthy older man and now lives as a semi-reclusive alcoholic and lonely widow.

Mecca is the town in the Coachella Valley--a place Ximena wants to get back to after being chased out by ICE. Matelasse also has family out here, on the Torres-Martinez Reservation. The diverse landscapes of SoCal--the hot dry desert, the difficult terrain in the fire-prone OC mountains, the urban bungalow court, the wealthy and lush hillside homes near Mulholland, the beach in Venice--are key to the various storylines. Food, crime, weather, traffic/travel distance, blood family and found family--come up again and again, and affect all of the diverse set of characters.

Straight knows Southern California, and as I listened I kept having to remind myself that this is fiction. I could see these places, having been to so places that felt like her descriptions (Fuego Canyon sounded like Carbon Canyon, Santiago Canton, Limestone Canyon). The Goldman house could fit into any hillside neighborhood in the Santa Monica Mountains between Brentwood and Los Feliz. The Seven Palms could be anywhere east of Whitewater, other than Palm Springs proper.

The only thing I did not like was the ending. After this nice long book with so many connected stories, I do not want to have to choose my own ending.
… (mer)
Dreesie | 9 andra recensioner | Jul 9, 2023 |
The community of Mecca is located in the Southern California desert, east of Los Angeles and San Diego. The people are ethnically diverse and about half the population works in agriculture. This is a far cry from the Southern California popularized in television.

The book opens with Johnny Frias, a member of the California Highway Patrol. Early in his career, Johnny killed a man caught in the act of sexually assaulting a woman. The woman fled, leaving Johnny with no witnesses. He never reported the incident and has lived with fear of reprisals ever since. Johnny’s story leads us to one character, who leads us to another, and so on. Everyone is routinely subjected to prejudice and discrimination by law enforcement and immigration officials, despite having deep, multi-generational roots in the United States. And everyone must teach their children how to avoid the worst possible outcome of these encounters.

Each character’s story is connected to another, often through some small event or circumstance unknown to either party. Sometimes I found it confusing to keep track of all this interconnectedness; at other times their stories were so compelling I stopped thinking about it. The landscape and climate were so vividly depicted that it was easy to feel part of it. And yet, I was disappointed with the ending. Focused primarily on one of the characters, it left me with questions about what happened to others and felt rather sudden and incomplete. Despite that, this is a book worth reading for greater insight to ethnic and racial issues in the US.
… (mer)
lauralkeet | 9 andra recensioner | Feb 26, 2023 |
Mecca is a real community located in the inland desert region of southeastern California. This book tells the fictional stories of the residents, focusing on three primary characters, Johnny, Ximena, and Matelasse. Johnny is a California Highway Patrol policeman. He is haunted by a killing two decades earlier. This incident will eventually connect him to undocumented housemaid, Ximena. Matelasse is a single mom who arranges flowers for a local florist. Current events are woven into the narrative, including the recent covid pandemic.

The author brings this community to life through the interactions of multiethnic individuals (and their families and friends) who live there. The primary drawback of this method is that, by telling these separate stories, there is an overabundance of characters. There are many advantages, though. It is filled with working class people doing their best to get by and dealing regularly with rampant racism and classism. Though the vast majority were born in the US, they are viewed with suspicion – “who are you, where are you from, why are you here?” Other themes include connectedness and the importance of family and community. It provides a viewpoint of native Californians pushing back against oppression.

“I drove south, past Mecca and Thermal and Oasis, the sandy earth covered with creosote bushes and smoke trees wherever there were no aisles of palm trees. Miles of green fields, with workers throwing watermelons and cantaloupe up onto trucks. A legion of women like Pharaohs wearing white headdresses walked out of the rows of grapevines that stretched forever like green veins toward the purple Mecca Hills.”
… (mer)
Castlelass | 9 andra recensioner | Nov 20, 2022 |
2022 will forever be the year I first met two writers who have been writing for some time, but who are new to me, and who rocked my world and changed the way I look at writing and at America. The first was Percival Everett, the second is Susan Straight. I believe we are headed for a two-way tie for book of the year.

Mecca rocked my world. I usually hate publisher's blurbs, I often find myself thinking "what book did they read?" Not so here, so instead of any plot summary I will steal a couple sentences from the blurb:

In Mecca, the celebrated novelist Susan Straight crafts an unforgettable American epic, examining race, history, family, and destiny through the interlocking stories of a group of native Californians all gasping for air.

In chapters focused on different members of a loose group of friends and family Straight creates rich and complex characters, heroes and antiheroes. whose lives are relentlessly impacted and yet not fully defined by US and state government/law enforcement and their approach to non-white people. (This includes one character who is a a cop, and that is a very interesting perspective.) There is one storyline with white characters, it is a hoot and I am pretty sure it was inspired by The Big Lebowski, and it serves as a great foil for the rest of the stories - the things white people with money can get away with - while also revealing a lot about being a woman and having to get things done. Really almost all the stories do that, even the stories of the minor characters. The women in this book are so freaking strong. Not in any cinematic "you go girl" "it is all about me" "I'm gonna buy those Jimmy Choo's" way. No these women have shit to get done and they do it. They raise children without the support of fathers, they endure rapes and miscarriages and beatings and they show up for backbreaking work the next day, they stand up to men with guns because their babies are waiting for them, they resent but accept with grace and equanimity that men can take off to pursue their dreams but they do not have that option. And Straight explores the limitations and joys of family. There are questions here giant and policy focused, and also matters that are intimate and part of every day real life. I don't know how she did it, but she did.

Straight was mentored by James Baldwin, and I can see that in this book, but more than that I saw a lot of Steinbeck. But in the end the book is completely Straight's own. There is not a thing derivative about it. It is a nuanced fresh empathic take on a spectacularly complicated group of dynamics, and it is a plain old great story about very real people. If you are looking for answers though, Straight is not giving those to you -- she offers only perspective so you can better consider the world.

I listened to this, and the audiobook narration by Frankie Corzo, Patricia R. Floyd, and Shaun Taylor-Corbett was excellent.
… (mer)
Narshkite | 9 andra recensioner | Nov 8, 2022 |



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