Tag Archives: Down these Mean Streets

Brown, Down and Dirty

5 Apr

Since my rebellious youth I have always been drawn to outsider literature—Manchild in A Promised Land, Soul On Ice, Down these Mean Streets,Animal Factory. .On to James Baldwin, Richard Wright, John Fante and George Orwell. If there was hard boiled chicano literature I missed it but Ben Bac Sierra’s debut novel Barrio Bushido (EL Leon Literary Arts) goes a long way to filling spaces that cartoon movies like Colors left blank.

Bac Sierra whose biography is as riveting as his fiction tells of the lives of three young hispanics, Lobo, Toroi and Santo in San Francisco’s barrio, living brutal and brutalized lives in thrall to a gangster code of conduct. Louise Nayer, ( Burned: A Memoir) opines:

Bac Sierra’s novel a… speaks of the wounds of poverty and racism and of the world of crime and heartbreak. Ultimately the novel is about what both bonds and separates us from our friends, families, and homes. Written in gritty and evocative language, … resonates with a raw energy that sings off the page.

Karl Marlantes (Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War) Bac Sierrea’s stable mate at El Leon, rhapsodizes


.. Bac Sierra moves from lyrical beauty to savage brutality with all the grace of the symbolic matador who haunts his gripping novel of criminal life in a California barrio. [His] voice gets inside your head and stays there, binding the reader to the compelling narrative as tightly as the novel’s characters are bound to the twisted code of criminal honor that leads to their tragic downfall.

Es Verdad.