San Francisco is on the verge of collapse in this gritty, grimy noir set in a future that gets closer every second.
Former San Francisco Literary Laureate Peter Plate who taught himself to write fiction during eight years squatting in abandoned buildings, delivers a fast-paced dystopian and speculative novel — the latest in a hardboiled writing career that spans the era of out-of-control gentrification in the Bay Area.
California is on fire. Everyone has the virus. Sinister patrols of SWAT teams seem to materialize out of thin air, and if you’re not careful, you’ll end up exiled down in Bakersfield.
In the middle of it all, the nearly thirteen-year-old narrator of Night of the Short Eyes must take care of his mess of a family—Dad is in jail for stealing guns with his partner, Ronnie, and Mom is shacking up with the social worker assigned to the family’s case—and he only has one thing to his advantage: he speaks perfect English. Refugees from Russia stream into San Francisco as our narrator approaches his next birthday. His younger brother (nicknamed Putin, “on account of his broken English and heavy accent.”) seems determined to make trouble if he cannot find it himself, which shouldn’t be hard when even crossing the street is a walk on the dangerous side.
In this world of worsening climate disasters, and set against the backdrop of a cold war that never ended, Night of the Short Eyes, the new book from Peter Plate, may be his most outrageous novel yet. Written with lyrical grace and propulsive momentum, Plate’s latest vision of California is so warped that it just might come to pass.