Picture of author.
21+ Works 1,283 Membros 38 Críticas 2 Favorited

About the Author

Novelist and short story writer Susan Straight graduated from Amherst College in 1984. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of California in Riverside. Aquaboogie, her first collection of short stories, won the Milkweed National Fiction Prize and was one of Publishers Weekly's best mostrar mais paperbacks (1990). I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots was named one of 1992's best novels by both Publishers Weekly and USA Today. It was also a New York Times Notable Book. (Bowker Author Biography) mostrar menos

Obras por Susan Straight

Associated Works

Little Women (1868) — Posfácio, algumas edições26,357 exemplares
The Future Dictionary of America (2004) — Contribuidor — 627 exemplares
The Best American Short Stories 2003 (2003) — Contribuidor — 468 exemplares
Citrus County (2008) — Contribuidor — 288 exemplares
The Best American Essays 2011 (2011) — Contribuidor — 226 exemplares
Los Angeles Noir (2007) — Contribuidor — 146 exemplares
Skin Deep: Black Women and White Women Write About Race (1602) — Contribuidor — 90 exemplares
USA Noir: Best of the Akashic Noir Series (2013) — Contribuidor — 84 exemplares
McSweeney's Issue 41 (McSweeney's Quarterly Concern) (2012) — Contribuidor — 76 exemplares
The Cocaine Chronicles (2005) — Contribuidor — 68 exemplares
Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave (2007) — Contribuidor — 64 exemplares
Granta 143: After the Fact (2018) — Contribuidor — 43 exemplares
Dream Me Home Safely: Writers on Growing Up in America (2003) — Contribuidor — 39 exemplares
Read Harder: Five More Years of Great Writing from the Believer (2014) — Contribuidor — 37 exemplares
Inlandia: A Literary Journey Through California's Inland Empire (2006) — Introdução — 33 exemplares
Orange County Noir (2010) — Contribuidor — 30 exemplares
Race: An Anthology in the First Person (1997) — Contribuidor — 28 exemplares
Drivel: Deliciously Bad Writing by Your Favorite Authors (2014) — Contribuidor — 28 exemplares
Some of My Best Friends: Writings on Interracial Friendships (2005) — Contribuidor — 21 exemplares
Black Clock 21 (2016) — Contribuidor — 4 exemplares
Black Clock 19 (2014) — Contribuidor — 2 exemplares
Black Clock 8 — Contribuidor — 1 exemplar


Conhecimento Comum



This is a truly ambitious book. It attracted my attention because it takes place in parts of Southern California I explored in detail as a young man (nearly 50 years ago now), going to college and beginning my career in the area known as the Inland Empire. Corona, Claremont, Ontario. So I know the territory.

The author brings this rarely written-about territory to a global audience and does so with high fidelity and gusto. So many details, so vividly described: the terrain, the businesses, the cultural conflicts, the styles, the roads and -- offramp by offramp -- the freeways. Most of all, though, the author paints the usually overlooked mix of people and their looks, their preoccupations, their polyglotic lingo, their dreams, their harsh realities.

I say the book is ambitious because it attempts to give voice to more than a dozen different people, women and men, boys and girls, workers and bosses, natives, immigrants, drunks, druggies, strivers, the grounded and the free-floating spirits, the decent, the profane. No easy task. In the first chapters, the voices didn't ring particularly true, especially the men's. Also, the plot is slow to develop, with many of the early pages a bit overburdened by establishing decades-old facts. These facts do become important later on. A finer edit, however, might have laid this groundwork more expeditiously.

Just the same, if you begin this book and feel bogged down at first, persist. Page by page, the plot gathers momentum until its final scene strikes a tremendous punch. It accomplishes this not by an odd twist or some other gimmick, but instead by the slow, steady accretion of feeling as a reader hears the characters speak, understands their experience in the world, and senses a deep sympathy.

Somewhere in the middle of the book I began silently objecting to cardboard portrayals of a few, less savory characters. But one also could find similar fault with many of the world's great novels. "Les Misérables" comes to mind. If no one is going to call Susan Straight a contemporary Victor Hugo, I'll give "Mecca" four stars for its ambition, execution, and huge heart.
… (mais)
Kalapana | 10 outras críticas | Jan 22, 2024 |
In this novel Straight looks at greater LA through a cast of characters--and all of these characters are linked somehow. These links aren't necessary to follow the story itself--but they are necessary to understand greater LA. We are all linked somehow, even if we don't know it or don't understand that this is true. This is not glitzy glamorous LA. This is the regular LA, where most of us here live.

Straight's characters include a Latino north OC native who grew up on a ranch and is now a CHP officer (and his family, longtime friends, fellow officers, and a mentor); Matelasse, a black and native woman whose family came from Louisiana (and her friends, children, ex-husband, co-workers); Ximena, a recently arrived undocumented immigrant (and her friends, family, co-workers, bosses); Bunny Goldman and her mother who married a wealthy older man and now lives as a semi-reclusive alcoholic and lonely widow.

Mecca is the town in the Coachella Valley--a place Ximena wants to get back to after being chased out by ICE. Matelasse also has family out here, on the Torres-Martinez Reservation. The diverse landscapes of SoCal--the hot dry desert, the difficult terrain in the fire-prone OC mountains, the urban bungalow court, the wealthy and lush hillside homes near Mulholland, the beach in Venice--are key to the various storylines. Food, crime, weather, traffic/travel distance, blood family and found family--come up again and again, and affect all of the diverse set of characters.

Straight knows Southern California, and as I listened I kept having to remind myself that this is fiction. I could see these places, having been to so places that felt like her descriptions (Fuego Canyon sounded like Carbon Canyon, Santiago Canton, Limestone Canyon). The Goldman house could fit into any hillside neighborhood in the Santa Monica Mountains between Brentwood and Los Feliz. The Seven Palms could be anywhere east of Whitewater, other than Palm Springs proper.

The only thing I did not like was the ending. After this nice long book with so many connected stories, I do not want to have to choose my own ending.
… (mais)
Dreesie | 10 outras críticas | Jul 9, 2023 |
The community of Mecca is located in the Southern California desert, east of Los Angeles and San Diego. The people are ethnically diverse and about half the population works in agriculture. This is a far cry from the Southern California popularized in television.

The book opens with Johnny Frias, a member of the California Highway Patrol. Early in his career, Johnny killed a man caught in the act of sexually assaulting a woman. The woman fled, leaving Johnny with no witnesses. He never reported the incident and has lived with fear of reprisals ever since. Johnny’s story leads us to one character, who leads us to another, and so on. Everyone is routinely subjected to prejudice and discrimination by law enforcement and immigration officials, despite having deep, multi-generational roots in the United States. And everyone must teach their children how to avoid the worst possible outcome of these encounters.

Each character’s story is connected to another, often through some small event or circumstance unknown to either party. Sometimes I found it confusing to keep track of all this interconnectedness; at other times their stories were so compelling I stopped thinking about it. The landscape and climate were so vividly depicted that it was easy to feel part of it. And yet, I was disappointed with the ending. Focused primarily on one of the characters, it left me with questions about what happened to others and felt rather sudden and incomplete. Despite that, this is a book worth reading for greater insight to ethnic and racial issues in the US.
… (mais)
lauralkeet | 10 outras críticas | Feb 26, 2023 |
Mecca is a real community located in the inland desert region of southeastern California. This book tells the fictional stories of the residents, focusing on three primary characters, Johnny, Ximena, and Matelasse. Johnny is a California Highway Patrol policeman. He is haunted by a killing two decades earlier. This incident will eventually connect him to undocumented housemaid, Ximena. Matelasse is a single mom who arranges flowers for a local florist. Current events are woven into the narrative, including the recent covid pandemic.

The author brings this community to life through the interactions of multiethnic individuals (and their families and friends) who live there. The primary drawback of this method is that, by telling these separate stories, there is an overabundance of characters. There are many advantages, though. It is filled with working class people doing their best to get by and dealing regularly with rampant racism and classism. Though the vast majority were born in the US, they are viewed with suspicion – “who are you, where are you from, why are you here?” Other themes include connectedness and the importance of family and community. It provides a viewpoint of native Californians pushing back against oppression.

“I drove south, past Mecca and Thermal and Oasis, the sandy earth covered with creosote bushes and smoke trees wherever there were no aisles of palm trees. Miles of green fields, with workers throwing watermelons and cantaloupe up onto trucks. A legion of women like Pharaohs wearing white headdresses walked out of the rows of grapevines that stretched forever like green veins toward the purple Mecca Hills.”
… (mais)
Castlelass | 10 outras críticas | Nov 20, 2022 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors


Also by
Marcado como favorito

Tabelas & Gráficos