Concrete Candy: Stories

Apollo, Author
Apollo, Author Anchor Books $15 (144p) ISBN 978-0-385-47780-2
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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Imagine you are an adolescent boy-man, footing it on your board through the streets of Oaktown, your only priorities being school and staying alive. Then imagine adulthood as a world of confusion and absence. That gives you an idea of the life of Jamie, Jamar and Chad, three of the protagonists of this debut collection of stories by the 15-year-old Apollo. These six stories, held together by recurring themes and imagines, bring the average reader of literary fiction knee-deep up inside of the lyricism of rap, grunge, and American youth culture. The writing is edgy, sophisticated, and poignant without posturing or rank commercialism. The protege of Jess Mowry (Way Past Cool), Apollo writes stories that are a trip through the West Coast of Freestyle Fellowship, the Pharcyde and Beastie Boys. With poise, control and an ear finely tuned to the pulse of popular culture, Apollo describes coming of age in the inner city as only an insider could. The frustration common to the theme is muted and humorous, especially when describing the dichotomies of urban and suburban life: ""The decaying brick-and-concrete jungle of the boys' neighborhood faded from their minds as they entered a world of happy kids and fluffy animals: the Oakland Zoo."" Fresh and poetic, Apollo's style is at times childlike, and at its best evokes echoes of Roald Dahl and of Jean-Michel Basquiat's neo-expressionistic paintings. Concrete Candy is an elegant and deceptively unaffected book: it may simply be his age that gives his work the raw original flavor, but that hardly matters. (Apr.)
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