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edited by Gary Phillips

Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-63614-054-4
Publisher: Akashic

Editor Phillips packs 33 square miles of one of Los Angeles’ most iconic neighborhoods into 14 compact stories.

Many of the contributors choose historic venues as their settings. In Emory Holmes II’s “The Golden Coffin,” a Mississippi country boy discovers the grandeur of the Dunbar Hotel, “built by Black folks to cater to people of color in a segregated city.” In “All That Glitters,” Gar Anthony Haywood sets a family drama inside quirky Watts Towers. Naomi Hirahara chronicles the last day of the Kokusai Theatre in “I Am Yojimbo.” Other tales focus more on historic events. Penny Mickelbury reflects on the changing demographics of the Great Migration in “Mae’s Family Dining.” Désirée Zamorano offers a chilling look at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in “If Found Please Return to Abigail Serna 158 3/4 E MLK Blvd.” Still others offer tales of misery that know no time or place. A teenager tries to save her baby brother from their neglectful mother in Jervey Tervalon’s “How Hope Found Chauncey.” In “The Last Time I Died,” Jeri Westerson’s feisty schoolgirl meets her match at St. Vincent’s Academy, a Catholic girls’ school. A former ward of the state makes his uneasy way forward in Nikolas Charles’ “Where the Smoke Meets the Sky.” And two ex–GI’s make an uneasy adjustment to civilian life in editor Phillips’ “Death of a Sideman."

These stories offer a strong sense of their community, covering a remarkable lot of ground on their beat.