5 Questions with Ryan Gattis

all involvedAt City Lights Books this Wednesday, Ryan Gattis will be reading from his acclaimed new novel All Involved (Ecco). He answers our 5 questions are below.

Event: Wednesday, April 15 @ 7PM at City Lights Bookstore: Ryan Gattis reading from All Involved.

About the Book: At 3:15 p.m. on April 29, 1992, a jury acquitted two Los Angeles Police Department officers charged with using excessive force to subdue civilian Rodney King, and failed to reach a verdict on the same charges involving a third officer. Less than two hours later, the city of L.A., a powder keg of racial tension, exploded in violence as people took to the streets in a riot that lasted six days. In 144 hours, fifty-three lives were lost. Yet, that number does not account for the murders that occurred outside active rioting sites—some committed by gangbangers who used the chaos to viciously settle old scores.

A gritty and cinematic work of fiction, All Involved vividly recreates this turbulent and terrifying time through seventeen interconnected first-person narratives. Focusing on a sliver of Los Angeles almost completely ignored by the media during the riots, Ryan Gattis paints a portrait of modern America itself—laying bare our history, our prejudices, and our complexities. Resonant with the voices of gang members, firefighters, graffiti kids, and nurses caught up in these extraordinary circumstances, All Involved is a literary tour de force that catapults this edgy writer into the ranks of such legendary talents as Dennis Lehane and George V. Higgins.

All Involved is a symphonic, pitch-perfect, superlative novel.  It is visceral and adrenalin-fuelled, yet tender and even darkly comic.  It is audacious, unflinching and subversive.  It doesn’t judge.  It swallowed me whole.”—David Mitchell, author of The Bone Clocks and Cloud Atlas

Ryan Gattis, author.
Photo by Sam Tenney

About the Author: Ryan Gattis is a novelist, lecturer at Chapman University, and Creative Director for urban art crew UGLAR (uglarworks.com). He is the author of the novels Roo Kickkick & The Big Bad Blimp; Kung Fu High School, The Big Drop: Homecoming and The Big Drop: Impermanence. He lives in Los Angeles.

City Lights: If you’ve been to City Lights before, what’s your memory of the visit?

Ryan Gattis: I’ve not yet visited, but am very much looking forward to it. It’s a cultural landmark.

CL: If your book had a soundtrack, what would it be?

RG: 1. “Run, Run, Run” by The Supremes
2. “I Wish It Would Rain” by The Temptations
3. “Mi Vida Loca” by Kid Frost
4. “More Than a Feeling” by Boston
5. “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and His Comets
6. “To Be With You” by Mr. Big
7. “54-46 (That’s My Number)” by Toots & The Maytals from their Live Album at the Hammersmith Palais
8. “Hand on the Pump” by Cypress Hill
9. “The Bomb” by Ice Cube
10. “Crime Pays” by Hall & Oates
11. “Of Wolf and Man” by Metallica
12. “America” by Original West Side Story Cast
13. “A Message to You Rudy” by The Specials
14. “Dedicated to the One I Love” by The Shirelles

CL: What’s the first book you actually finished reading?

RG: I don’t recall, but likely a book by Michael Hague. I’m thinking The Reluctant Dragon.

CL: If you weren’t a writer, what might you do?

RG: I suppose teacher is the obvious answer, as I’ve taught a lot, and I enjoy it very much, but for me, it’s a profession tied to writing, and I can’t do one without the other.

CL: Name a few things you’d require if stranded on a desert island for an undefined period of time (and, yes, no Wi-Fi).

RG: Ask the Dust, Cannery Row, Jane Eyre. Reams of paper & pens. Gobs of sunscreen. Building materials. Rain gear. A proper hat. A proper bed. A machete. A boat.


Be here at City Lights tomorrow to catch Ryan Gattis reading from his acclaimed new novel, All Involved. And check our events calendar for more exciting events this Spring.

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