TATTOO THE WICKED CROSS by Floyd Salas
Kirkus Star

TATTOO THE WICKED CROSS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

It takes a book like this with its snarling rasp of authenticity to make one realize how far the literature of hoods and punks and pachucos reaches today below and beyond The Amboy Dukes of an earlier generation. Salas (with admitted influences--Genet, Burroughs, etc.) has written this novel out of his own experience (a Juvenile detention home, a county Jail farm on the West Coast) but has extended it with a natural talent (a Joseph Henry Jackson Award, a Eugene F. Saxton Fellowship) of tremendous strength. Caged behind the bars and later barbed wire of a prison farm, here is Aaron D'Aragon, fifteen, who has been consigned there from the streets with his best friend, ""better than brothers,"" Barneyway. Before long Barneyway submits to the inevitable--one Buzzer, a Dig Negro who appropriates him and makes him his ""pussy."" But Aaron refuses to be bullied and ""bumkicked"" and stomped; his only protector, Dominic, leaves him a knife and an ethic, ""love and hate"" and keep fighting, keep caring. Visits from his brothers, from his girl, Judith, an innate religiosity, the memory of his mother's face surfacing up through the rubble of later experience, all serve to reclaim him until.... You will ""suffer but suffer hating""--you will be flayed by any number of shaming, brutal scenes; but you will be involved inescapably, since the book manages to make feeling, triumph over its recalcitrant materials.

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1967
Publisher: Grove