Friday, October 21, 2011

Taste of Tenderloin, by Gene O'Neill

The streets in the Tenderloin are mean, to say the least.  And there are some interesting characters who inhabit that particular part of the city.  But each of these people has a story, and many times, there is something bringing these people together.  And sometimes, they play parts, large and small, in each other's stories.  What stories would you learn, if you only took the time to listen to the folks in the Tenderloin?

Not being terribly familiar with any cities in California, I had to look up the Tenderloin area of San Francisco to learn a bit more about it.  It does not sound like the greatest place to live, yet this book shows the dark beauty contained within the streets of the Loin.  I really loved meeting some of the people from those streets, albeit fictitious people, but it really reminded me that each city, each place in this world, has it's cast of unusual character, and they each have their own story to tell.  What we may see is the surface only; a cripple, a whore, a drug addict.  What we don't see is the heart of a hero, the passion of a musician, the hope of a dreamer.  I loved that this book made me see beyond the surface.

The stories in this book are gritty, to say the least.  Some say the Tenderloin got its name because it is the underbelly of the city.  And the reader does in fact see that in these stories.  O'Neill does not sugar coat what happens on these streets; instead, he makes the truth beautiful, in its own way.  And I personally love that one character ties all the stories together, to really make the book seem like the narrative of the neighborhood.  I would love to learn more of their stories.

I received a review copy courtesy of the publisher.

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