"I'm outta here! I got a future!" crows Roberto Silva when he is down-sized out of his job as a security guard at a bank in Oakland. But Roberto's future isn't the one he was looking forward to. This is the 1990s, and upward mobility in the city requires resources that Roberto is short of. Before he knows it, he is living in an abandoned quonset ...
"I'm outta here! I got a future!" crows Roberto Silva when he is down-sized out of his job as a security guard at a bank in Oakland. But Roberto's future isn't the one he was looking forward to. This is the 1990s, and upward mobility in the city requires resources that Roberto is short of. Before he knows it, he is living in an abandoned quonset hut and then on the street, where he crosses paths with poet Silver Mendez, a survivor of the 1960s whose luck has run out, and Gus Hernandez, a compadre from his days at the bank. The ups and downs of the lives of men who are always looking for a way to earn a cup of coffee with plenty of sugar and cream, their desperate ingenuity, their hunger, their dauntless optimism have never been brought to life as vividly as in this sweet, sad, funny trio of interlocking stories by one of America's most original writers. "An utterly distinct literary experience. No one writes like Gary Soto. Rather than falling into the trap of politicizing his subjects???blaming Anglos, blaming the church, blaming anyone at all???he simply presents the lives of these three men with emphasis on the minute details, the micro-decisions, the often-perverse impulses that actually comprise so much of human existence. By doing so, he achieves universality."--Gerald Haslam
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Publishers Weekly, 2000-02-14 "Poetry is about people who suffer," says one of the characters in this compassionate, sharply etched portrait of three dispossessed Oakland men on the margins of American society. The book is arranged into three interconnected stories, opening as Roberto Silva, 33, loses his job as a security guard at a bank, duped by his boss into believing that his layoff is a sign of his bright future. Older guard Gus Hernandez doesn't take his own job so lightly, but it's only a matter of time before he suffers a similar uprooting when the bank cavalierly forces him into retirement. Poet Silver Mendez tries to make a living from his writing and fails; even his mother won't let her middle-aged son stay at her place. The once-promising but ever-hopeful Mendez crashes at friends' houses if he can; otherwise he sleeps in his car. He befriends the now homeless and nearly starving Roberto, and he notes that looking at Roberto is to "stare into the watery eyes" of his own future. Roberto functions in the book as a symbol as well as a character, his pathetic but ingenious attempts at entrepreneurism a result of his relentless optimism. In spite of hitting rock bottom, facing the bigotry and cruelty of cops and suspicious, fearful rich people, Roberto remains human, humane and himself. Soto, a National Book Award-nominated poet, prolific fiction writer (A Natural Man) and children's book author, is a versatile, unsentimental and clear storyteller, and his range of talents converge to illuminate the lives of these three Chicano men living in the shadows. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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