Thursday, September 26, 2002

CB's new book The Ice Beneath Youis on the street. I ordered mine and it's here. Get yours by first stopping at CB's website, and linking from there.

From the EastBay Express, an alternative in Oakland, I believe, comes this excellent write-up:

Black Hawk home: This year's most riveting return flight into the heart of darkness is Christian Bauman's The Ice Beneath You (Scribner, $13), in which a young army vet, fresh from service in Somalia, crosses the USA still stunned from what happened over there. He ends up holed up, down and out, with a friend of a friend in Berkeley among "kids in new BMWs ... smart-looking fuckers walking around with hands in pockets ... and I've never seen so many homeless in one place."

The vet "isn't me, and his experiences aren't mine," says Bauman, who lived in India for a year when he was thirteen and became a husband and father at seventeen. At 21, he joined the US Army Waterborne, with which he served in Somalia.

"I know what it is to be very young, very poor, all alone, and out of options a long way from home. And the Bay Area may be one of the worst places to be those things. It's not a good place to be an outsider looking in, to be a 'have-not.' It's not at all forgiving. Or, more important, it doesn't seem that way" to the thin-walleted newcomer.

Bauman's own first visit here "was horrible. I was nineteen or twenty, didn't know anyone, didn't have any money, and rolled into town on a Greyhound. A bad beginning, and it went downhill from there." His impressions mellowed in time.

"I love Northern California," says the author, who now lives in Pennsylvania. "The Bay Area is always such a visceral experience for me -- still is. It's warm and it's colorful and it smells good and you want to be in it. I don't pretend to be a native, but I know it well enough, and long enough, to have opinions about it."

In the novel, his protagonist finds work as a peep-show-booth dancer. His scenes in the club called XXXSTASY are as searingly real as the ones in which he's holding a gun. But hey, Bauman reminds Press Here, this is a work of fiction.

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