From Publishers Weekly
There's a point in Plate's new novel when the narrator, a nickel-bag drug dealer named Doojie, spies a hooker walking up the street. What he sees has nothing to do with sex. Instead, he recognizes the washed-out eyes, the track marks, the veiny legsAall the signs of a disposable human being, just like Doojie and just like everyone else in this oddly moving chronicle of street life in San Francisco's gritty Mission District. The book follows the lives of three small-time drug dealers whose ambitious plans belie the reality of their pathetic circumstances. Besides Doojie, there's Bobo, an ex-convict who provides the trio with a little muscle, and Eichmann (the name is ironic, since Doojie is a Jew), who thinks of himself as the leader of their "cartel," envisioning a rapid climb up the drug hierarchy. Together, the three subsist as squatters in an abandoned garage behind a Laundromat, eat take-out when they have the money, smoke a lot of dope and rip off other dealers when they get the chance. They epitomize the predatory, sad lives of the residents of the Mission that Plate conjures with a piercing eye for detail and mood. The existence of the three dealers is complicated by a cop named Flaherty, who shoots and kills an innocent man one day in a random street dispute. The problem is that Doojie witnesses the shooting. Flaherty tries desperately to track him down, and eventually he grows so obsessed with killing Doojie that the lawman becomes just another desperate soul in the Mission whose reckless attempts at self-preservation prove to be his undoing. Plate has written about this slice of life before (Snitch Factory; One Foot Off the Gutter), and he continues to do so with tender yet unflinching insight. His portrait of Doojie, whom he traces back to a hard, demented upbringing, stirringly shows how good people wind up doing rotten things. (June) FYI: According to the publisher, Plate himself lived as a squatter for eight years in San Francisco.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The postcard version of tourist San Francisco is nonexistent in this stirring tale of urban angst in the City by the Bay. Plate startlingly conveys the reality of the "other side" of town--where drugs and corruption are as common as cable cars and sourdough sandwiches. Doojie squats in a garage with two other dope dealers: cold and calculating Eichman and food-loving Bobo. The trio of misfits ekes out a living by selling substandard weed to a variety of colorful clients. When Doojie sees corrupt cop Flaherty shoot an innocent Mexican man, the veteran narc finds out he has a witness--and seeks to eliminate him. While Doojie tries to stay one step ahead of Flaherty, Eichman hopes to improve their lot in life by stealing better pot from other dealers. Interspersed throughout the surprisingly endearing Doojie's daily struggles are looks back at his relationship with his charismatic, troublemaking stepfather, Doojie Senior. Devoid of preaching, Plate's compelling novel offers a memorable view of the netherworld of San Francisco and its troubled but sympathetically human denizens. Jenny McLarin
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