A Novel
By Lou Mathews

August 2021

Hardcover | $26.95
ISBN 9781735303802
Ebook | $11.99
ISBN 9781735303819

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A timeless novel about characters bound together by their working-class Los Angeles neighborhood.

In Shaky Town, Lou Mathews has written a timeless novel of working-class Los Angeles. A former mechanic and street racer, he tells his story in cool and panoramic style, weaving together the tragedies and glories of one of L.A.’s eastside neighborhoods. From a teenage girl caught in the middle of a gang war to a priest who has lost his faith and hit bottom, the characters in Shaky Town live on a dangerous faultline but remain unshakable in their connections to one another.

Like Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, Katherine Ann Porter’s Ship of Fools, Gloria Naylor’s The Women of Brewster Place, and Pat Barker’s Union Street, Shaky Town is the story of complicated, conflicted, and disparate characters bound together by place.

About the Author

Lou Mathews is the author of L.A. Breakdown and a longstanding instructor at UCLA Extension’s acclaimed Creative Writing program. His stories have been published in ZZZYVYA, New England Review, Tin House, Black Clock, Paperback L.A., and many fiction anthologies. Mathews is also a journalist, playwright, former restaurant critic, and passionate cook. He has received a Pushcart Prize, a Katherine Anne Porter Prize, and an NEA Fiction Fellowship, and is a recipient of the UCLA Extension Outstanding Instructor Award.

Praise for Shaky Town

“No one writes, or maybe ever has written, as well as Mathews about the local streets and their navigations, liberations, and traps, as brilliantly demonstrated in these stories.”
Steve Erickson, author of Zeroville and Days Between Stations

“This novel is a particular triumph of storytelling, each installment more acute, more poignant, more revealing than the last, each story crackling with its own distinct energy and intelligence. The characters are jumpy at the margins―volatile, mournful, funny as hell―with the little-known warrens and alleyways of Los Angeles teeming all around them. Mathews is a master, and perhaps contemporary fiction’s best-kept secret.”
Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Battleborn and Gold Fame Citrus

“In Shaky Town, Lou Mathews has written a peerless chronicle of working-class Los Angeles, capturing his beloved hometown in all its tragedy and knuckleheaded glory. A former mechanic and eastside street racer, he illuminates daily life with the same kind of grace and authority that Leonard Gardner brought to Fat City. Mathews is the real deal, matching style with soul and reminding us what matters in this life.”
Jim Gavin, author of Middle Men and creator of Lodge 49

“With Shaky Town, Lou Mathews brings a fascinating and unforgettable corner of the real Los Angeles to vivid life, creating an authentic portrait of a time, a place, and a people. This community is no stranger to tragedy and loss, but there is much beauty, hope, and even humor in Mathew’s stories as well. His characters know what it means to endure, to survive. They have their triumphs and their struggles―yet so often in these pages, if we pay close enough attention, they are also showing us how to live.”
Skip Horack, author of The Other Joseph and The Eden Hunter