Elsewhere, California: A Novel
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When Keith moves in with her family, he triggers a series of events that will follow Avery throughout her life: to her studies at USC, to her burgeoning career as a painter and artist, and into her relationship with a wealthy Italian who sequesters her in his glass–walled house in the Hollywood Hills. The past will intrude upon Avery’s first gallery show, proving her mother’s adage: Every goodbye aint gone. The dual–narrative of Elsewhere, California illustrates the complicated history of African Americans across the rolling basin of Los Angeles.
banned. Whenever Massimo was home he screamed like a knife had just been plunged into his back if ever he had to hear Keith Partridge’s honey voice telling the world, “I woke up in love this morning! I woke up in love this morning!” “I will puke my guts,” Massimo said, the first time he heard Keith. “You cannot possibly be serious.” He was spooning pasta into our dishes and his cigarette dangled from his lips, as always, and he tightened the muscles in his face so that he could smoke and complain
both of our lips puckered and stuck way out so that our lips are barely touching. We are both wearing Dodger caps, which Keith would no doubt protest. I am looking at Keith and Keith looks out of the corner of his eye with a hint of fear, as though someone or something is about to be upon us. In my apartment, the portrait was positioned so that as I lay in bed, alone or with someone, Keith was watching. I liked that about the painting, but I was also most proud of the colors I managed to get
and it was like she tried to make him hit her, but he wouldn’t. He just got up and left. That’s what he does now. They don’t hit each other anymore. It’s like they’re both too tired. Avery, Daddy says. Come here and sit down for a minute. And I’m scared. I’m thinking, Uh oh. My ass is grass. What am I in trouble for now? Sit down, Dad says again. And Mom says, What are you doing with your hair. A baseball cap? You need to do something to it. I don’t have anything to say because I really am just
ahead. I loved where I was already, in Los Angeles. But I still loved my invented place in California even better because it sounded like confetti and long streamers coming down from the sky, caressing my face—this other place in California, like glitter and myriad pieces of confetti, the beautiful Blue Chip Stamps my mother and I used to save, and all kinds of other images and words and ideas I couldn’t put a name to at the time. THE FIRST TIME my father told me my mother was crazy was
all sit in the car watching other people get to the stadium. Rad, Brenna says. Really. This is awesome. Great ball game. Keith slides down in his seat. I don’t care if we get to the game or not, he says. I’d rather play than watch these other fools play. But Carlos is bumming like me. He turns around in the front seat so he can shake his head at me. Avery Day, he says. Man. Dad leans into our side of the car. Y’all might as well get out the car. It’s hotter in there than it is out here. He