Gripping, visceral account of LA riots

ALL INVOLVED<br><b>Ryan Gattis<br></b><i>Picador/Macmillan
ALL INVOLVED<br><b>Ryan Gattis<br></b><i>Picador/Macmillan
It is genuinely hard to believe the author of this gripping, visceral account of the 1992 Los Angeles riots was not in the city at that time.

According to our friend Google, Ryan Gattis is actually from Colorado and based this stunning work of ''faction'' on a bunch of YouTube videos and the extensive archives of the Los Angeles Times newspaper. The wonders of research, eh.

For those too young to recall, 1992 was the year Los Angeles descended into chaos for a spell following the acquittal of white police officers on charges of the brutal beating of a black man, Rodney King.

The days after the court handed down its fateful decision were particularly frightening as mass rioting led to looting, fires were started across the city, and emergency services were left short handed.

Gattis dives into the carnage through a device - multiple character narratives - that might not be original but is absolutely perfect for the task.

He shows some ambition, too, using no fewer than 17 different first person voices to capture the madness of the King riots.

There is the gang member, the firefighter, the poor bloke just wanting to sell some ice creams, the street smart hustler and a bunch of others with their own particular reasons for being part of the nightmare, and the author does a brilliant job of keeping their stories distinct but linked.

Reading All Involved is an experience similar to watching a Game of Thrones episode. You will be shocked, disgusted and horrified, and you will wince at some of the more graphically violent moments.

But these are important stories, and more recent examples of racial issues within the American police suggest they are of a timeless value.

Hayden Meikle is ODT sports editor.


Win a copy

The ODT has five copies of All InvolvedĀ by Ryan Gattis (RRP $34.99) to give away, courtesy of Picador and Macmillan.

For your chance to win a copy, email helen.speirs@odt.co.nz with your name and address in the body of the email and ''All Involved book competition'' in the subject line by 5pm on Tuesday, August 4.

LAST WEEK'S WINNERS

Winners of Sophie and the Sybil by Patricia Duncker, courtesy of Allen & Unwin, were: Pauline Shefford, of Outram, Wendy Sherriff, Alexandra Fusco and David Moir, all of Dunedin, and Melissa Chambers, of Cromwell.


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