A propulsive and ambitious novel as electrifying as The Wire, from a writer hailed as the West Coast's Richard Price—a mesmerizing epic of crime and opportunity, race, revenge, and loyalty, set in the chaotic streets of South Central LA in the wake of one of the most notorious and incendiary trials of the 1990s.
At 3:15 p.m. on April 29, 1992, a jury acquitted three white Los Angeles Police Department officers charged with using excessive force to subdue a black man named Rodney King and failed to reach a verdict on the same charges involving a fourth officer. Less than two hours later, the city exploded in violence that lasted six days. In nearly 121 hours, fifty-three lives were lost. But there were even more deaths unaccounted for: violence that occurred outside of active rioting sites by those who used the chaos to viciously settle old scores.
A gritty and cinematic work of fiction, All Involved vividly re-creates this turbulent and terrifying time, set in a sliver of Los Angeles largely ignored by the media during the riots. Ryan Gattis tells seventeen interconnected first-person narratives that paint a portrait of modern America itself—laying bare our history, our prejudices, and our complexities. With characters that capture the voices of gang members, firefighters, graffiti kids, and nurses caught up in these extraordinary circumstances, All Involved is a literary tour de force that catapults this edgy writer into the ranks of such legendary talents as Dennis Lehane and George V. Higgins.
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Best Multiple Narrative Since the Poisonwood Bible
Worthy of national and local book awards, this is an incredibly real and well researched perspective of LA's most violent persons on its darkest days-- yet each one is very human and real. Despite the graphic street language, I'd say that reluctant high school readers as well as mature readers will relate to this one. Character analysis can fill much book club and classroom discussion. Reader interest is maintained through all details: revelation of gang standards of order and survival, maintenance of fire hoses and equipment under seige, stylistitic techniques of tagging, deception of rivals on their turf, and the ways in which good intentions often produce the most ironic outcomes.
All characters are interesting. Perhaps the most riveting is an all-involved sixteen-year-old girl whose existence and hardcore transformation was never imagined by the Simi Valley jury which set the historical events in motion. Though the characters are purportedly fictional, I have no doubt that the real counterparts exist.
Scenes from many-- certainly the militaristic chaos in Dr. Zhivago. Add Fagin's gang in Oliver Twist with its combination of the brutal and the idiotic, the compassionate and the inhumane; then there's bullying disregard for the disenfranchised as in The Grapes of Wrath and there's the individuality of Spoon River Anthology.
Excellent intonation, and all 17 characters were truly distinct.
It makes you realize how much things are slow to change, and it makes current civil rights issues significant. I take a train through some of this neighborhood every week and this book fits it very well. It's the most intense book I have read since Unbroken
- Alan McCarron
LOS ANGELES 1992
- CHET YARBROUGH