One foggy day in San Francisco brings together bloody ghosts, a dandyish thug, capricious cops, a suicidal punk rocker, a hyperliterate slumlord, and a sweet old lady sent by God to hand out cash from a hijacked armored car. In Fogtown, Peter Plate uses a loving hand to carve his characters out of hallucination, perversity, and tenacity. Plate's noir sensibility gives him special fluency with the weary souls of urban America's down and out; Fogtown describes a new age unmistakably built on the twentieth century of Nelson Algren and Charles Bukowski.
About the Author
Named a Literary Laureate of San Francisco in 2004, PETER PLATE taught himself to write fiction during eight years spent squatting in abandoned buildings. He is the author of many novels, beginning with Black Wheel of Anger (1990) and continuing through his seven neo-noir "psychic histories" of San Francisco, where he still lives and writes today.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fogtown: A Novel (Yankee Girl) based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
A haunting and straight-forward tale of four characters living in the subtle, quiet aftermath of an armored car "robbery," Fogtown is essentially solid with an unfortunate habit of commiting too strongly to a simplistic and out-of-place low brow style. Almost every major character or location is introduced via a paragraph of uninteresting factoids; the closest comparison I could come up with was an atlas or encyclopedia, though even less interesting. (He was this. He was that. He did this and that. He was also this other. It's numbing. If that was the author's intention, kudos, I guess? But in the end, those passages were at best quickly forgotten.)One other interesting stylistic point was the overabundance of San Francisco landmarks. I appreciate giving the story a sense of location, but I can honestly say there may not be a single page in the entire book that doesn't have three or four specific landmarks, and many have more than that. It feels intrusive and interrupts some of the flow of the book. The afore-mentioned "encyclopedia" sections at least presented information in a non-fiction, fact-based way, and the translation to character and world building doesn't work at all.Strong characters, fairly interesting plot, very gripping with a quick pace. The addition of a larger maybe-its-ghosts-or-maybe-its-drugs-or-maybe-he's-crazy plot became an interesting way of tying multiple characters together, but in many ways the execution was lacking. The technique was used primarily in regards to Stiv, a loser with no life, occasionally tripping into a detailed fantasy about a probably-real convict and his probably-real sidekick, but the story also occasionally drifted into a similar "ghosts of San Francisco" concept that didn't contain the same narrative flow at all, though the actual content there was fairly interesting, if not uniform.Individual sentences and conversations shine through as truly innovative and creative, a display of something incredible waiting to be tapped, but as soon as such gems make themselves apparent, they fade into the overwhelming sense of repetition and conformity of a straight-forward account instead of a character exploration. Actually, that's my main beef with the entire book - I couldn't tell if it was supposed to be a story about the characters, a story about the money affecting the characters, or a story about the city itself. Instead of being an amalgam of narratives, it feels like a schizophrenic recollection of knowledge being portrayed in a normal narrative sense. It comes off feeling... without a distinct voice, either as a whole or for any individual character.