cover image Oakland Noir

Oakland Noir

Edited by Jerry Thompson and Eddie Muller. Akashic, $15.99 trade paper (278p) ISBN 978-1-61775-530-9

The legendarily tough California city of Oakland finally gets an entry in the Akashic noir series. The volume’s 16 original stories touch on “thug life,” as well as such issues as homelessness and suicidal despair in the digital age. Despite a few tales of torrid sexual desire, most of the contents feel less like true noir and more like something barely on the fringes of the genre—the plot of Keenan Norris’s “A Murder of Saviors,” for example, centers on the formation of charter schools. Judy Juanita’s “Cabbie” seems poised to explore controversial depths with mentions of notorious real-life cop killer Lovelle Mixon, a hero to some, but dribbles away into a vague vignette, volcanic potential untapped. Joe Loya’s “Waiting for Gordo” provides visual variety by presenting the narrative as a wire transcript. The editors follow the Akashic formula with a mix of local writers of diverse ethnic backgrounds, but leave out Oakland literary giants such as the street fighter and poet Floyd Salas. The end result is just an average entry in this acclaimed series. (Apr.)