What is justice, what is virtue,
asked Plato in his Republic.
The characters in J. B. Powell’s novel ask the same thing in their quarter of Berkeley. The sculptor Aidan, aka George Bush, faces not only municipal charges from the city for refusing to buy a permit to park on his own street, but federal charges for impersonating a government official. Annie, a runaway mother from Montana, searches for a father for her child, but gets side-tracked by crack cocaine. Liam, he has misplaced himself in Bogart’s role in Casablanca, looking for an outmoded (perhaps sadly so) ethic. Raja, father of eleven—or is it twelve?—children, pack-rats the city’s streets to eke out a living and fight the racism he and his children face, while his daughter Bianca gets shuffled to a foster home. Sonny wants to be a chef, but can’t shake the vision of a slain Mexican donut maker, nor the vision of Annie’s smile. . . . So, does Cold Water, a killer loan shark, represent the only justice we’re likely to find? Or will Matthew’s gamble pay off—does that compose the only true justice, true virtue? The medieval wheel of fortune? Descend into Powell’s modern Berkeley cum Piraeus
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JB Powell grew up in San Diego, California before moving to Berkeley to attend college. Since graduation, he has worked in a number of fields while practicing his writing. Some of them include: flower deliveryman, landscaper, merchant seaman, parking lot attendant, dishwasher, waiter, cook, office gopher, stained glass installer, and carpenter. While writing The Republic in New York City, he honed his skills as a cabinetmaker and now works as little as possible in a small cabinet shop in San Francisco. His fiction has appeared in Artisan and Elysian Fields Quarterly. His poetry has shown in Poetalk and Byzantium. This is his first novel.
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Ms Nelson takes up the whole couch, so we on the
carpet in front a the TV. But I ain’t really watching. Missy wet herself and
she’s kind a crying, but not too loud. Louise is sleeping next to her and Tina
been asleep in the bedroom already. Mr Underwood’s asleep in his chair with his
hat in his lap, but he keeps snorting real loud, waking himself up. He got a