Thursday, March 26, 2015


Today we're throwing back to 1990 in the word nerd notebooks. Andrew Vachss is not only an author, but a child protection consultant and attorney working exclusively for children and youths. It's therefore no surprise that his Burke series deals with some pretty harrowing issues. Burke himself is a career criminal who is the product of child abuse, foster homes, and prison. The series can be dark, very dark, but even within the dark, Vachss paints faint (very, very faint) streaks of light, both through Burke and the unique cast of characters who surround him. The few he has chosen to be his family.

The following excerpts are from Blossom, the fifth in the Burke series:

  • I was born sad - I don't remember another time. Sadness was never my friend, never coming to me like those electric fear-jolts when I needed them. It was just always there. Ground fog on my spirit. I'd go deep into myself, the only safe place I knew in the places where I grew up. Dropping so far down nobody could see me. But the sadness would float on gray tendrils too soft to tear, finding its way between the cracks. I'd feel its misty wet weight settle on me. I could never chase it, so I lived in it.
  • If there's a God, someone needs to sue him for malpractice.

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About Malcolm Avenue Review

I was lucky enough to be born and raised in a nifty, oak-shaded ranch house on Malcolm Avenue, a wide-laned residential street with little through traffic, located amid the foothills of Northern California. It was on that street and in that house I learned most of my adolescent life lessons, and many grown-up ones to boot. Malcolm Avenue was "home" for more than thirty years.

It was on Malcolm Avenue, through and with my family and the other families that made up our neighborhood of characters, that I first learned about and gained an appreciation for the things I continue to love the most to this day: music, animals, photography, sports, television/movies and, of course, books.

I owe a debt of gratitude to that life on Malcolm Avenue. It gave me a sense of community and friendship, support and adventure. For better and worse, life on that street likely had the biggest impact on the person I've become. So this blog, and the things I write here, are all, at their base level, a little bit of a love letter to Malcolm Avenue.


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