MY PUBLISHER'S TAKE ON THE RAP
"Roots Digital Media not only produces films like Tarpit — #tarpitthemovie — it’s also an ebook publisher. Our vision with the ebook imprint in terms of its literary fiction offerings is to digitally publish, sell, and champion works of American literature that demonstrate a mastery of quintessentially American English. We’re looking for novels that take pleasure and pride in our cultural story, our history. We’re hoping to ignite in our readers a love for American writing that revels in the pleasures of language, its sound and rhythm, language that takes pride in the idiomatic meaning of American speech.
"We’re beginning with Ernest Brawley’s The Rap, a prison novel, inspired by the gritty, action-packed reality of San Quentin in the 60s and by the revolutionary Black Panther, George Jackson. The Rap is a page-turning, character-driven, language-rich novel that raps lyrically about political imprisonment and rails powerfully against governmental corruption, against authoritarian statism—against The Man. If you like Ken Kesey, Hunter Thompson, Charles Bukowski, Larry McMurtry, Edward Abbey, Jim Harrison, Cormac McCarthy—authors who write linguistically rich, aggressive, viscerally incendiary and deeply American books, you’ll love Ernest Brawley and The Rap.
"Little Arv Weed, a prison guard who hides his mixed race origins, is terrified to live out the drudgery of his American working-class future. He teams up with the political prisoner William Galliot, the dignified, well-educated black revolutionary, to stage an unlikely escape. Meanwhile, Arv’s cousin Wasco Weed, another inmate, the magnificently intimidating leader of the Motopsychos, a drug-running motorcycle gang, has been tasked by no less than the Governor, through the prison’s warden, to assassinate the radical black leader. Galliot’s only real crimes are political. And his most feared weapons are the ability to write and to inspire revolution.
"Although violently clear lines are drawn between guards and inmates, the narrative describes the terrible reality that, no matter which side of the bars these characters are on, they’re all in prison. And the desperately beautiful horrors at the heart of each are revealed in their lyrical raps, teeming with American idiom, in this brilliant piece of quintessentially American literature."
This is the KIRKUS REVIEW of my novel THE RAP. Have a look.
The definitive prison blockbuster -- raw and brawling -- perhaps necessarily long as it piles details and encounters and endlessly intertwined relationships into a powerful and engrossing first novel by a writer in the James Jones tradition. ""The rap"" refers as much to the guards as the inmates they supposedly protect both from society and each other -- for they are as much locked into prison life as the convicts. Specifically this applies to Little Arv, son of a prison sergeant, and his pal and brother-in-law, Fast-Walking Miniver, son of the warden, who both exist in the shadow of Little Arv's satanic cousin Wasco Weed, Arv's feared (yet perversely admired) childhood bully companion. Wasco has been promised he'll be let off a murder rap if he only offs William Galliot, a black militant leader in the clink on trumped-up charges. Waste uses his wife, an other-worldly (but definitely not ethereal) Hawaiian water freak named Moke to sucker in Arv -- who, knowing this, goes along anyway, loving her with crazy passion -- as she sets him up for official blackmail by getting him to smuggle in letters to Galliot. But even the best-laid plans of cons and criminal bureaucrats go wrong. As Moke falls for Arv, the blacks use their escape plan in the nick of time, and Arv -- the presumed hatchet man -- has the choice of shooting his cousin or Galliot. As a former guard, the writer presents an enormous amount of authentic fascinating info on stuff like prisoner hierarchy (as complex and corrupt as the one outside) and pimping; his characters are both improbable and believable, and the writing is as tough and gritty as it should be -- and then some.
SOME REVIEWS OF MY NOVEL SELENA
Christian Ingvordsen, film director:
“In the late Seventies I read a novel that blew my mind. It was a dog-eared paperback of THE RAP by Ernest Brawley, which I've re-read five times since then. It's a brutally honest story of a young man working as a guard in a state penitentiary who is as much a prisoner of the System as any convict. He becomes embroiled in a conspiracy with a black revolutionary prisoner whom the State wants assassinated and whose compatriots want sprung from prison. It's a great story, intensely plot-driven, with a cast of larger-than-life characters. But what really sets it apart is the writing. Ernest Brawley is a master of language. His characters speak in a stream of consciousness, rapping style that perfectly captures the way real people talk. Cut to years later and I, after many years making movies, am starting a digital publishing company to distribute films and books with Roz Foster a veteran of the publishing industry. I turn Roz on to THE RAP, and sure enough she agrees, the book is a work of literary genius, unlike any homogenized, cookie-cutter, mass market bestseller out today. We contact Ernest and he graciously agrees to rerelease THE RAP through Roots Digital, our digital publishing company, in ebook format. It's a great privilege and honor to bring back THE RAP and reintroduce this lost treasure to a contemporary audience.”
“There is not an area of novel writing where the author is not scarily gifted. His plotting is intricate but never rings false or o obtrudes. His descriptions of places, scenes, machinery, processes, illuminate like flares. His ear for dialogue can handle English, Mexican-American and ‘pocho’ Spanish. His narrative pace is swift. His style is joyous and free. His feeling for character is mind-boggling. His amazing eye makes every page fresh. NO AMERICAN WRITER IN YEARS HAS PRODUCED SUCH A READABLE, DEEP AND FULLY REALIZED NOVEL!” San Diego Union
“Lusty, robust, pulsating, lyrical…authentic power!” Los Angeles Herald-Examiner
“A story as vibrant and earthy as its heroine and her people…a big, powerful novel, packed with action and alive with unforgettable characters!” Literary Guild Magazine
“Need not to be compared to Steinbeck; it stands on its own feet, speaks with its own fresh, strong voice!” Louiseville Courier Journal.
“Powerful!” Los Angeles Times
“This is storytelling at its best.” Dallas News
“SELENA is ardent storytelling. It sings of California’s spiritual landscape with unabashed gustoand native pride.” Thomas Sanchez, author of RABBIT BOSS.
MY PUBLISHER'S TAKE ON SELENA
"Spanning a quarter of a century, from the early 1950s until the 1970s, and set against the social and political turmoil of the San Joaquin Valley in that watershed era, Ernest Brawley’s novel SELENA traces the interlocking destinies of a haunting young woman, driving by a mystical belief in her uniqueness, and two desperate men who have been lifelong rivals.
"From early childhood, when the Blessed Virgin appear to Selena in a vision, she has been certain she’s fated for special accomplishments. Although her poor Chicano family labors in the tomato fields and the packing house of the great Vanducci empire, she dreams of marrying into the landed gentry. When the fansty shatters in her face, she goes on to beocme a spellbinding labor organizer, steeped in the mythology of her ancestors and determined to bring the parvenu landowners—especially the Vanduccis—to their knees.
"Heir to a fortune, Jay-Jay Vanducci struggles—out of his impossible love for Selena—against the claims of caste and clan. His ultimate decision and the brutal scheming of his father ignite a chain of fiolent acts that explode into an all-out class war. Meanwhile, Jay-Jay’s foster brother Delano, half-breed, ex-con and born survivor, schemes and plots his way through a maze of confused loyalties and reluctant treacheries, further complicated by his obsession with Selena and by the knowledge that the Vanducci land was originally settled by his own great-grandfather.
"THE RAP and SELENA are works of American literature that demonstrate a mastery of quintessentially American English, each deeply treasuring our American cultural history. Readers of these works will discover or fan the flames of a passionate love for American writing that revels in the pleasures of language, its sound and rhythm, language that takes pride in the idiomatic meaning of American speech."
The first paragraph of THE RAP:
"Moke, small, comely and brown, came out only at dark, like a nocturnal fish. She loved night and black water and U.S. dollars. They were her lovers, and her prey. She was their queen. Her eyes shone like diamonds. Alone among her race she defied the sun, which held sway over all the wide Pacific, alone to her came sleek ambition and a supreme distaste for napping under coconut palms at midday. Alone among all the money-lovers and junkies of the world she knelt too at the throne of the deep, sought gold at its source in watery darkness, undeceived by sunny appearance."