Jason Allan Cole
Zumaya, 2008 (2008)
Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke
ason Allan Cole, son of author Allan Cole, makes his debut with
- eleven short stories set in Los Angeles, California. They are eye-openers to a part of society that many try to forget - the homeless who dwell in the '
stinking alleys, and the condemned, abandoned buildings
', down-and-outers, alcoholics, drug addicts, and dealers, and young Santa Monica girls lured willingly from their rich homes bordering Hollywood Boulevard.
ole brings out that it isn't only the homeless who use these buildings, but also what he refers to as
Playboy Gangster Crips
who bring in their whores as well as drugs to sell. Sixteen-year old
, who has his space in one of the rooms, tells us, '
When you're homeless you get possessive. Much more than a person with many things of value ... when you have next to nothing, which in reality is nothing, you don't want to give it up to any man. What you have in your pockets is all that stands between you and the final insult of death and dishonor.
he Quality of Mercy
is narrated by Frank, a worker at the meatpacking plant. In the boss's office is a new secretary named Mercy, whose appearance brightens his outlook. Off to the Tattle Tale Room after punching out, and there she is - with the company foreman. Frank fancies taking her to dinner at a nice restaurant. He gets a new suit, a haircut, is off drugs for three weeks, and further into debt buying a new vehicle - all to impress Mercy. All Frank's efforts end in vain.
nother story begins, '
I was fifteen, and this would be the last year I would live at home.
' With his parents and their friends, young Ethan does coke, drinks until all hours of the night, smokes pot, and takes Quaaludes. In a week he's homeless after a very drunk dad chases him down the street. '
The future was now. It still is
', he muses.
we meet a midget named Carl, a mini-mart employee. Carl was never adopted from the county home, which he left at age eighteen. Carl hates his customers who have '
eyes with no souls behind them
'. Anger gets out of hand - on both sides. Joe's story is earthshaking in
. Joe seeks the whereabouts of Molly; he's been with others but cannot forget her. Anger turns to rage as he approaches her door.
he author - whose dedication to his wife Hiroko Cole reads, '
You taught me how to live again
' - portrays the reality of street life. Common threads run through these stories that lean toward open endings, leaving readers pondering intent and meaning.
is not a light read but the characters, their world, and placement in society, are not promptly forgotten.
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