In Shaky Town, Lou Mathews has written a timeless novel of working-class Los Angeles. A former mechanic and street racer, he tells his story in cool and panoramic style, weaving together the tragedies and glories of one of L.A.'s eastside neighborhoods. From a teenage girl caught in the middle of a gang war to a priest who has lost his faith and hit bottom, the characters in Shaky Town live on a dangerous faultline but remain unshakable in their connections to one another.
Shaky Town is a tough and beautiful mural of a novel constructed though interwoven short stories that explore the streets of East Los Angeles in the 1980s. Eschewing even the faintest strain of stereotypical L.A. glam, Shaky Town is populated with chain link fences instead of pools, pollution instead of seashores, and the 'watercolor sadness of smog,' as an art professor tells his students ... With Shaky Town, Lou Mathews has constructed a prismatic singularity replete with elegant and empathetic renderings of people forced to weigh difficult choices. The stories gleam, despite their sadness, with the glow of every person’s potential to rise above the wreckage that surrounds them or, if nothing else, to go down swinging for what they know, beyond all else, is true.
In Shaky Town, Mathews uses a wider lens than he did in his previous book, giving voice to a broader range of voices — from gang members to art professors to elderly widows — but his affection for the knuckleheads and glory hounds remains intact. He captures them well, in prose buoyed by energy and humor.