Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton
by Ricardo Cortez Cruz

Hardcover
1992
Price: $20.95

Paperback
1992
Price: $13.95

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Straight Outta Compton is about living large, living in the fast lane. It raps to its readers about being black, being born and raised in the L.A. ghetto, being so-called "Niggaz 4-Life," being sweet on black life (for those in it, the beat goes on). It focuses on the lives of two black men, Rooster and Clive-nem, who grow up together in Compton. He and Rooster split up, fall into rival gangs—the Bloods and the Crips—and begin to hate each other. Clive has other problems besides Rooster—namely, Compton. He thinks that he's made a girl pregnant. He's involved with gangs. Straight Outta Compton samples from all aspects of black life in its search to have its characters find what rapper Heavy D. would call a, "Peaceful Journey." It wasn't just written; it was mixed by a DJ, and the result is hyped!


"Ricardo Cortez Cruz's novel Straight Outta Compton is a linguistic breakdance, a colloquial jitterbug, a slangy flashdance, full of risks that pay off with harsh delight. It's surreal at times, a nightmare in broad daylight with a lot of possessed and dispossessed characters, characters who talk out of two sides of their heads. These characters talk jive, they lust and scream, laugh and shout; most of all they stay in motion, living hard and fast in the moment, moment after moment. They are whirled together in wonderment and anger. There's courage here. Boldness. Life lived at the speed of television light and noise. And there's rock hard authority. The confident, angry voice of the author lends them their anger. And who can say that this anger is unjustified in the streets of South Central L.A., or in this novel, that is not itself a kind of passionate expression of the quest for love?" —Clarence Major, author of My Amputations, Winner of the 1986 Western States Book Award


"As we move into the nineties, rap music's slice-and-dice (and then bring-the-noize) approach has been this country's most effective and original strategy for providing outsiders with a sense of the urgency, anger, and sheer exhilaration produced by the collisions of sounds, sights, and people in our urban jungles. Now in Straight Outta Compton, Ricardo Cruz has succeeded in writing the first major rap novel. It's a brutal, authentic, and often startling book brimming over with the surrealism and black humor, exotic lyricism, and struttin' intensity of our ghetto's mean street scenes." —Larry McCaffery, author of Storming the Reality Studio


Excerpt


Tomorrow


When Rooster was nine or so, we used to all sit on the stoop with boodies like charcoal and scratch house music on the cement. Our mommas were Lisa-Lisa and Monet grabbing Bic pens and No. 2 pencils which were snapped in half. They threw them out the front door and told us to get outside and use them. "Reclaim your imagination," momma said. "Keep your ass out of the street and put on clean underwear in case you get hit."

Out on the stoop, I called Clive. And Clive called Rooster. And Rooster would call nobody but talk only to himself, and he blew his plastic bugle until his cheeks and heart turned blue. And he called Yolanda. And Yolanda, who had squash for breasts, called dirty Diana. And dirty Diana would drop her clothes and creep over with ripe raspberries inside her unbuttoned blouse. And Rooster would look inside and point at the berries like they were nothing. And Clayborn would crawl alongside Diana and a cloud of dusties so his momma and daddy couldn't see him, and he called nobody but seemed to be calling for anybody on the inside. And anybody who heard him called their friends and came over, and house niggers who weren't even invited to sit on the stoop gave Flip, Billy's tripped-out friend, an excuse to follow suit. So he did. And Flip looked like a middle finger to us, but together we functioned like a bad set of big, black hands.

The University of Compton was close to my house, and Flip claimed he jumped the fence to become a college man. He pointed to the chain nets on the basketball courts inside the fence and showed us real blood smeared over his wrist and hand. Flip claimed he cut himself dunking on the rims. He also said it was where the drug dealers shoot.