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Eili, Ely – “She don’t love me no more.”

November 18, 2013

Eli

Eili, Ely 

by Ezekiel Tyrus

Hard Head Press, 2013, 283 pages

$12.94 Paperback

I am not in my late twenties or early thirties, though I must admit I did go to San Francisco to be a beatnik in the 60s (I was a little late).

What I like about this book, no love about it, is that it captures the uncertainty of life for me at the time. Sure, there are explicit sex scenes that should get some sales and self-indulgent examples of the writer’s own work that will lose them, but what I got caught up in was the narrator’s dilemma. He has been given an ultimatum by his girlfriend which he is trying to understand. Friends pitch in, but ultimately he, and the book, find a deeper significance in all this. And I did too.

The writing is candid. The exchanges between characters, real. Tyrus says, “When writing I often feel I’m in another era: I’m a writer living in various cities, in an old hotel room, writing in a battered diary. There’s no computer. My first novel was written on 914 sheets of notebook paper…” Reading this, I am back in SF―San Fran-cis-co. Pan-fried chow mien, soft-shell crab, steamed clams. Fog. Hills. A clatter of empty cable cars. The sixties. Coffee only a nickel. Jazz, the Beats—all that will never be “yes” again…were there.

And what is beneath the surface? For the writer, for the reader. Being there. Being there through what we read and write. “Ain’t got a nickel, ain’t got a lousy dime. Woman I’m so crazy about, she don’t love me no more. Meanwhile in another city, I thought I heard my baby call, the way she used to call my name. If I ever get back to stay, it’s going to be a brand new day. Walking with my baby…down by the San Francisco Bay.”

4 out of 5

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