Eric Miles Williamson’s Welcome to Oakland – Back on the Streets Again

The first line of Welcome to Oakland, Eric Miles Williamson’s sequel to East Bay Grease (see review here) sets the theme:  “I’m always happiest when I live in a dump, and I’ve lived in some serious shitholes.” And Williamson’s narrator, T-Bird Murphy (who was also the narrator of Williamson’s East Bay Grease), is not being metaphoric when he refers to living in a dump. Throughout much of this book, T-Bird, now a twice-divorced man, is looking back at the period when he worked as a garbage man, literally living in one of Oakland’s city dumps, sleeping at night in his garbage truck parked at the dump. Continue reading Eric Miles Williamson’s Welcome to Oakland – Back on the Streets Again

Eric Miles Williamson’s East Bay Grease: A Portrait of the Artist in Hell

In East Bay Grease, Eric Miles Williamson has created the ultimate novel of a child living in Hell, a story of brutality, transformation and transcendence. The narrator, T-Bird Murphy, is a poor kid from the Oakland slums, living in a world where people violate each other horribly—a world of vandalism and violence where no one ever calls the police because the police are the enemies of all. No one ever files lawsuits. It’s vigilante law. People take their revenge themselves.  They use knives to maim and torture. They burn down houses. They murder. Everyone knows whodunit and they know why it was done. It’s the real world that the poor in the big cities in the U.S. live in, but though the poor make up a huge segment of our population, this world is invisible to anyone not living in it. Continue reading Eric Miles Williamson’s East Bay Grease: A Portrait of the Artist in Hell