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EAST BAY GREASE by Eric Miles Williamson

EAST BAY GREASE

By Eric Miles Williamson

Pub Date: March 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-19861-2
Publisher: Picador

A remarkable debut novel describing a young man’s coming of age amid the biker gangs of Oakland during the late 1960s. Single mothers are always going to have their hands full, but T-Bird Murphy’s mom knows where to turn for help: the Hell’s Angels. Ever since her husband’s been in jail, she’s dated a biker, so she can rely on the Angels to pitch in whenever there’s a crisis—and she gets more than her share. T-Bird himself seems to move from scrape to scrape, fighting off the blacks and Mexicans who mock his bookishness at school and ambush him almost nightly as he walks home. When T-Bird’s convict father gets paroled, however, Mom panics and persuades the Angels to help her leave the scene before he arrives. T-Bird stays on. He and his old man move to a trailer behind the gas station where they work, and for the first time ever, T-Bird savors the semblance of a normal family life. From his father he learns how to fight (—There’s no such thing as a fair fight. . . . Someone always wins, and someone always loses. It’s stupid to be the loser—), and soon the Mexicans regard him with a newfound respect. But by and by his old man turns increasingly violent and irrational, and T-Bird sets out on his own, working construction crews by day and playing trumpet in Bay Area bars by night. Brawling remains a part of existence, and T-Bird becomes an old hand at gang alliances and fights. The real miracle of his adolescence, however, is not merely that he survives, but that he flourishes—and emerges as an articulate, ambitious man. Refreshingly sincere and unaffected, Williamson’s chronicle provides a fascinating glimpse, from the inside, of a world that is rarely visible—and a marvelous account of one boy’s escape from it. (Author tour)