In this brilliantly jagged sequel to the gang-life classic, Always Running (1994), acclaimed journalist, poet and fiction writer Rodriguez (Music of the Mill, 2005, etc.) chronicles his struggle to leave behind a drug- and crime-ridden world that always threatened to “call him back.”
An acute political consciousness and powerful love of the written word ultimately saved the author from the lurking dangers of the street and the “nothing life” to which most Latinos in East Los Angeles were automatically condemned. After leading a thankless working-class existence that amounted to little more than “despair on the fast track,” Rodriguez landed in a training program for minority journalists at UC-Berkeley. “[A]s a reporter," he writes, "I could help right the wrongs, accomplish something long lasting with what I was being given. Now truth and the full picture could bleed from the pen or a camera, not from a gun." But the way forward was as difficult as it was anguished. At every turn, Rodriguez had to face not only a troubled past that still beckoned to him, but also his own personal demons: alcoholism, heroine addiction and a violent temper that indiscriminately “roll[ed] over people, family, friends, kids, [and] enemies." He overcame his darker urgings, but not without revisiting them through his eldest son, who became tragically entangled in the “web” Rodriguez had escaped. Yet it was this very crisis that brought him into more authentic alignment with himself as it drew him closer to a family and community that, for all its “diversity and antagonisms," he could not help but love.
Raw, searing reading from start to finish.