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East Bay Grease

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  142 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
In Eric Miles Williamson's debut novel, young T-Bird Murphy seeks to gain a foothold in the turbulent and menacing world of 60's and 70's Oakland. While his mother runs with Hell's Angel's bikers, T-Bird falls beneath the men's fists and favors, finds solace and hope in the slightest of rewards, and seeks to survive. Soon, his ex-con father returns to town, and what ...more
Paperback, 260 pages
Published March 1st 2000 by Picador USA (first published March 1st 1999)
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Jack Bullion
Apr 11, 2010 Jack Bullion rated it it was amazing
My favorite author, George Singleton, has admitted in interviews that he prefers to write short stories, but because he knows that collections don't sell, he just populates them with the same characters and packages a dozen or so of them as a novel. While I love Singleton's writing, his approach strikes me as an incredibly lazy, cynical way to do business, and his last few "novels" have suffered as a result.

Eric Miles Williamson's book, on the other hand, is one of the best novel-in-stories you
The East Bay Review
Eric Miles Williamson is Oakland through and through--not the Oakland of Rockridge hipsters or start-up gentrifiers, but the Oakland of Too $hort, the Oakland of Sonny Barger, the Oakland of Al Davis. The story of T-Bird Murphy, a young man growing up poor and white in 1970's Oakland, East Bay Grease is street-level literature at its finest--Charles Bukowski by way of Jack London and Zola. T-Bird suffers through beatings, abandonment, and heartbreak as a child, eventually finding salvation ...more
Jul 20, 2008 Carrie rated it liked it
really honest book, the guy is a good soryteller too. plenty of racism, stuff that made me angry and squirmy -- sometimes i think the text questions its own assumptions often enough to make it seem like the story is at least struggling with its racism as opposed to just wildly advocating for it. Other times I think it just supports some seriously fucked up ideas about, and violence towards Blacks and Latinos. I haven't read the whole thing in a while. Being a native Oaklander the recognition of ...more
L.V. Sage
May 07, 2014 L.V. Sage rated it really liked it
I read this book several years ago, but it is still sitting in my bookshelf, along with the classics and the forgotten/unknown classics that I like to surround myself with. Williamson's gritty tale of a poor white kid trying to survive the daily torments of his condition and upbringing leaves you breathless as you run along with him, hoping for escape or at least a temporary hiding place. But T-Bird Murphy, our protagonist, has a couple of cards up his sleeve: a talent for the trumpet and, more ...more
Apr 08, 2014 Michelle rated it really liked it
The best way I can describe this book is comparing it to the book "The Outsiders." This book is a remarkable debut novel describing a young man’s coming of age amid the biker gangs of Oakland during the late 1960s.The real miracle of his adolescence, however, is not merely that he survives against all odds, but that he flourishes and emerges as an articulate, ambitious man. Refreshingly sincere and unaffected, this book provides a fascinating glimpse, from the inside, of a world that is rarely ...more
Jul 13, 2015 Hosho rated it it was amazing
East Bay Grease, Williamson's first book, is gritty and surprising. At turns brutal and tender and written crisp prose that brings shooting gunite, playing the trumpet, and growing up in Oakland into sharp focus, the book follows T-Bird Murphy growing up rough and largely unsupervised. Be it petty crime, or terrific passages about playing in a band, the book surprises, even as it pulls no punches. Williamson reads a lot like Don Carpenter (a tremendous, relatively unknown talent) and I look ...more
Mark Farley
Jun 23, 2013 Mark Farley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a menacing and hard-nosed story of true grit about a young kid growing up in Oakland, San Francisco's unruly cousin, just north of the trust fund hippy town of Berkeley. Hookers, Hells Angels and drunks are the young T-Bird's best friends in an unforgiving environment and tough world in which he strives to get out and start a new life in sunnier and easier climbs. Gritty, authentic language and action not for the closeminded.
Aug 15, 2012 Jacob rated it really liked it
EMW was my english professor at UCM years ago. He was an interesting teacher. Although it's marked fiction, this book chronicles his youth in Oakland during the height of the Hell's Angels' popularity. Most of the stories in it are close to the truth (though I get the feeling some may be embellished). Lots of drugs and some sexual content. An easy read.
Dec 28, 2008 Dan rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Read this in college, due to the author coming and speaking to my creative writing class (actually my girlfriend's class). The book is interesting for all the right reasons. Good plot, well-executed writing, interesting. I would recommend it.
Dec 06, 2008 Catherine rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: adults
Recommended to Catherine by: college professor
Shelves: adult
I had to read this for a college class. I enjoyed this book. Although this book covers some pretty graphic and scary situations, I enjoyed the frankness and honesty the author used. I would recommend this book for adults. I'm glad I had to read this book.
Nov 23, 2014 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tough, gritty, coming of age story set in a '60's/'70's poor, working class Oakland, America. A good read, I believe there's a sequel.
Aug 07, 2011 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic, funny, gritty coming-of-age novel about a kid raised by Hell's Angels in Oakland, CA. Every scene is vivid and hysterical; novel is narrated by a teenager, T-Bone. Great work!
Jul 06, 2008 Cradymc rated it really liked it
This is a really good read. Stark writing that makes no apologies for it's masculine voice. Reminiscent of Harry Crews. There's also a sequel, which I haven't checked out yet.
Aug 05, 2012 Jean-Pascal rated it liked it
Version française inconnue de Goodreads. Le livre m'a plu même s'il manque d'unité. Une note finale explique que les chapitres ont été édités séparément auparavant.
Rebecca Curtis
3 1/2 stars, the music element was incredible and added so much to the canon of work we have been studying.
Jul 19, 2011 Suzanne rated it it was amazing
I'm a fan of hard South. I am now a fan of hard Oakland. This story was told so personally, I am left wondering how much is autobiographical. Eric, if you lived through this, you rock.
Apr 15, 2015 Emily rated it really liked it
reading this book is like eating sand. in such an awesome way.
Austin Williams
Austin Williams rated it really liked it
Oct 05, 2009
Victor rated it really liked it
Feb 28, 2015
James Dixon
James Dixon rated it it was amazing
Feb 17, 2013
Gene Munson
Gene Munson rated it it was amazing
Oct 05, 2013
Joe rated it really liked it
Jun 20, 2015
Brittany Burrows
Brittany Burrows rated it it was amazing
Aug 03, 2013
john rated it really liked it
Sep 22, 2012
Gabby rated it really liked it
Jun 18, 2014
Tahmeka rated it really liked it
Jul 14, 2012
Liz rated it liked it
Jan 28, 2009
Jessica Hall
Jessica Hall rated it it was ok
Mar 28, 2016
Philip Bellew
Philip Bellew rated it it was amazing
Jul 08, 2011
Kurt Freund
Kurt Freund rated it really liked it
Apr 30, 2013
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Internationally acclaimed novelist and critic Eric Miles Williamson was named by France’s Transfuge magazine one of the “douze grands écrivains du monde”—one of the twelve great authors of the world. His first novel, East Bay Grease, was a PEN/Hemingway finalist, and its sequel, Welcome to Oakland, was named the second-best novel of 2009 and one of the top 40 novels of the decade by the Huffington ...more
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