Straight Outta Compton

Ricardo C. Cruz, Author F2c $20.95 (121p) ISBN 978-0-932511-60-7
This first novel is a hipper than hip-hop send-up of the ``boyz 'n the hood'' stereotypes slammed together with references to everything from Leroi Jones and Madonna to Titus Andronicus . Essentially a series of free-form short stories interlocking as much by imagery and rhythmic devices as plot or character, the novel tells of the rise and demise of an assortment of black teens in the Los Angeles ghetto of Compton. Clive thinks he has gotten his girl pregnant; Rooster kills a hooker; Billy may or may not be in a Hollywood movie about his gang life. Little of this makes narrative sense, and Cortez Cruz isn't really interested in telling stories. His Compton is more a state of mind than an actual place. His style is equal parts Sandra Cisneros and Ishmael Reed, but without her compassion or his precision. Too often, as in the title chapter, the literary and pop culture references become so much name-dropping ornamentation. On the other hand, the author has a mordant sense of humor that shines through at unlikely moments. Generally, this is an exasperating debut, intermittently impressive, but too often choked on its own flash and filigree. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
Paperback - 122 pages - 978-0-932511-61-4
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