L.A. Weekly is determining the best L.A. novel ever by holding a tournament featuring 32 of our favorites in head-to-head matchups, until there's only one novel standing. For further reading check out:
*Best L.A. Novel Ever: The Tournament Brackets
*Best L.A. Novel Ever: More Matchups
Bob Jones, the shipyard worker at the center of Chester Himes' If He Hollers Let Him Go, has a mind that runs a million miles a minute. It goes so fast and veers off on so many detours that it takes the first 68 pages of If He Hollers... to get through one day of his life, and you still feel you're barely keeping up.
With Lucia, the tough, strategic gangster's girlfriend who drives Yxta Maya Murray's novel Locas, it's the opposite. She's taught herself to have razor sharp focus and not dwell on what she can't control. You're not sure if it will save or destroy her, but you always know what she's after.
Himes, whose grandfather had been a slave and who moved to L.A. from Cleveland, like his title character, only to find racism in this city stuck to him like a "disease I couldn't shake," published If He Hollers Let Him Go in 1945. Murray published Locas just over fifty years later, in 1997. The two books face off in the Rebels and Outcasts category of our tournament and, given that five-decade gap between them, it's unsettling that they have the similarities they do.More »