Fresh Talent: All Involved by Ryan Gattis

Fresh Talent: All Involved by Ryan Gattis

All Involved – Ryan Gattis

For six days, Los Angeles is a city ablaze.

For six days, seventeen people are caught in the chaos.

For six days, Los Angeles shows the world what happens when laws are no longer enforceable.

In April 1992, less than two hours after one of the most notorious, racially charged trials in American history, Los Angeles explodes in violence. As widespread rioting breaks out and martial law takes over, one man’s death triggers an astonishing sequence of events – not just for the gangs involved, but for others too: fire-fighters, graffiti artists, nurses and law enforcement, all of whom are connected by this murder and entangled in the city’s mayhem. Through these voices, All Involved weaves a brutal epic of crime and opportunity, revenge and survival.

Read if you loved: The Black Dahlia – James Ellroy

Ryan Gattis Biography

Ryan Gattis is a novelist, lecturer at Chapman University in Southern California, and member of LA urban art crew UGLAR.

Ryan Gattis on the Inspiration Behind All Involved

It all began with traveling somewhere I’d been told never to go: South Central Los Angeles. When I first moved to the city, well meaning Angelenos told me to avoid it. There was nothing worth seeing there, they said, and if I did go, all I would find was trouble: gangs, robberies, carjackings. The way they spoke about the area, it sounded like a 24-hour-a-day hell. None of them, it must be said though, had ever been there.

I spent over two years in Lynwood. I still visit to this day, and I can say this: all I’ve ever found are humans doing the best they can in a place most have forsaken. I spoke to former gang members, firefighters, nurses, and other citizens who’ve lived through the chaos of the 1992 L.A. riots.

As far as South Central is concerned, everybody knows about Compton, or at least heard the name. It functions as a brand, with a reputation solidified by pain, violence, and a ferocious style of music that reflects both. Nobody knows Lynwood. Even people in Los Angeles don’t know it. Yet, it is connected to its neighbor in a way that looks more like an EKG read-out on a map than a southern border: down on State Street, up on Bullis, down on Thorson, up on Stoneacre, down on Gibson, up on Wright. Punctuated by long horizontals, this jagged line is the closest thing there is to a solid boundary, but it doesn’t hide the fact that Compton bleeds into Lynwood, and vice versa. The truth is, they are two ventricles of the same heart. Their violence has always been shared.

If you live in Los Angeles and you have a car, you might never know about this proximity, or these shared problems. This is because you don’t ever have to see what it’s like in Lynwood. If you’re not actively avoiding it, you can be above it, literally, on the 105 Freeway; it was built forty feet above the ground, allowing you to go to and from the airport without ever knowing what the lives of other Angelenos are like in Lynwood, Compton, Watts, and Inglewood.

But fiction can be its own vehicle, if you let it. If you’re brave enough, fiction can allow you to experience the things we’d never want to see and feel in person. Fiction is for empathy, for connection, for building bridges, and for enabling sight. Fiction is for exploring place: how it is the way it is, and even more so, why. I wrote All Involved because I didn’t understand the scope of the riots, why they lasted six full days, or why over 11,000 fires were set. I wrote it to honor the survivors who aided my research.

Although its composition has been separated by the event that inspired it by some 20 years, I believe the book uses the benefit of hindsight to serve as an act of witness, as an emotional, psychic photograph of the most violent six days in the history of the city—a time when tanks rolled on the streets, when families were separated, loyalties were tested, and nearly everyone was simply trying to survive to see another day.

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