Tag Archives: poverty

Son of Amity by Peter Nathaniel Malae

DEAR MALAE: I swear I offered this to a bunch of publications in the straight community but no one wanted it, at least not from me, so here it is on an insignificant blog. I tried! Feel free to use. –N

Peter Nathaniel Malae’s new book Son of Amity begins with themes familiar to his readers: violence, incarceration, cultures tangled and erased by poverty, hatred for the consumer and the less-dedicated, and perhaps the Californian writer’s greatest contribution to twenty-first century literature: an identifiable search for the use of masculinity in our time.

As before, the economy of description is refreshingly socio-economic. Malae’s mission to portray common people brings us undernourished, overfed, jelly-spined poor whites, but also dignified and convincing portraits of men forgotten in prison and in Bush’s Middle-East conflict, and women rejected, imprisoned, by the ignorance in their environments.

But this is no rerun of What We Are: like Jimmy Baca before him, the author’s own evolution since he disappeared into the “Pacific Northwest” makes the reader an attractive offer to evolve according to his characters’ examples. There are three males in this dialect-rendered story. Which is the titular Son of Amity?

Here Malae repurposes his previous characterizations to disarming effect. For a start the writer’s voice, mercifully, is separating from the narrator’s. Malae always demonstrates an ear for specific slang, something that really impresses academics, but in Son of Amity, especially the memories of prison, we finally get to observe what this slang, in its various pressure and quantity, really means between characters.

Central to the three adults’ seemingly-doomed cohabitation is a highly-realistic evolution of characters’ wills and desires, something unfit in What We Are’s immediacy. Starting with revenge for a rape, the characters’ common ground shifts under them as the victim of the violence takes the will to both choose forgiveness and transform the violence into a child: Malietoa to his Samoan uncle, Tophat to his veteran father, the latter crippled by the former.

The use for masculinity is found in a shared faith in family centered around the child Benji, and not in an act or a gesture. The outcast’s longing for a family to serve –and worth serving –in previous work has arrived. As What We Are’s exasperation before an expanded mind rouses similar feelings to Immigrants in Our Own Land, so this meditation on refocused life approaches the glorious beauty of Black Mesa Poems.

Throughout the book, Malae turns his previous work’s conceits against themselves using time and natural renewal: here we hopelessly serve our past even as the future offers us a ride without reservations, in this case the innocent child at the lead. The book’s greatest charm lies in watching the three adults reluctantly choose the boy’s inspiration over their baggage. Who, then, is the Son of Amity? I would argue that it’s the boy, and I propose that the narcissistic masses of this country read this book and follow their own Malietoa, their own Tophat.

Malae never neglects the portraiture of people trying to both live up to the past and make some way of living in the present. Perhaps the clearest symbols of this are Pika’s Samoan umu Thanksgiving turkey at the book’s finale and Michael’s worship of the Vietnam vets. But the conceit and the dignity lies in Sissy’s internal monologue throughout, in which the urban, feminist, progressive reader must coexist with the fact that Sissy’s post-rape decisions come from a need to move forward without any plan.

Highly recommended for those needing an immediate dose of reality.

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Clifford Coulter – Sal Si Puedes

How in the hell did I only just find out, today, 19.6.18, about Clifford Coulter and his East Side tunes??? And on Impulse! Man, I owe a lot to Eric Avila for Folklore of the Freeway. His bibliography saved me from looking like an ignoramus. The book gave me the tip about the Mayfair district being called Sal Si Puedes (there’s one in Watsonville too, heh), as well as about Helena María Viramontes’ Their Dogs Came With Them that I finished yesterday. Let’s get out if we can.

Apply yourself and it comes to you …
If you believe in this lie, you’re a fool, my friend!
The odds are too high, you’ll never win. That’s the way it is.

Dhalgren by Samuel Delany

Dhalgren is the fucking bomb. A friend told me to read it like 15 years ago, and I should have then, as part of the Ballard-Burroughs-Other-Next-Level-Stuff trip I was on about then, but I’m just reading it now.

Every sentence is like a poem. William Gibson says he doesn’t understand it, but that’s beside the point. It’s about memory loss, dyslexia, time, all the important stuff. The story is just the medium. Certainly not a “difficult book” like these blogger dorks say. Nor is it particularly long: he just breaks paragraph a lot. And it’s punker, bummer, scumbagger, than anything. Read it now!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhalgren

If you’re one of the 150 million American males who refuses to read, here it is put into tweets: http://www.conceptualfiction.com/dhalgren.html

Prison Entertainment Against Nonwhites

If you’re still pretending to be astounded as to how half of the men in this country will likely vote for Trump for president, here’s a tiny bit of help: you’ve been consuming television that demonizes people of color and the poor. On top of that you don’t bat an eye at corporations exploiting those incarcerated, and therefore almost without rights, to make entertainment. From right out of Salinas, a classic case of prisoner profiteering on Lockdown, provided in this case by Australia’s 7Mate via the National Geographic Channel.

Pelican Bay Still Not Off the Hook

From the Prisoner Human Rights Movement: Today it is four years since the Agreement to End Hostilities was issued from the Pelican Bay SHU by the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective and the Representatives Body. The text of the Agreement stands strong, and we encourage you all to spread the word and keep to it. It […]

via The Agreement to End Hostilities in its 4th Year: Read and Spread the Word! — Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

Americans Unmasked

When the regular Americans you see day in and day out at like the grocery store or saying the weather on TV turn away from you and go do their own thing, this is what they’re really like.

Think of the white places you’ve been to lately: Santa Cruz, Aptos High School, Los Gatos, the peninsula, Burning Man, Coachella, this is who you’re dealing with when they take off their second face.