Shaky Town

Shaky Town
Author, Lou Mathews
Lou Mathews
Tiger Van Books
Book Description: 

We usually do not carry fiction in our catalog, but every now and then a book comes along that is so well written and makes us change our policies. This is such an excellent book, we could not ignore it and decided to make it one of our featured books.

Welcome to Shaky Town, a place invisible on maps and found only in the secret heart of its citizens. In his second novel, Lou Mathews, a former mechanic and street racer, captures the grit and gold of working class Los Angeles and lays down his marker as one of the city's great chroniclers. He tells his tale in a cool and panoramic style, weaving together the tragedies and glories of one east side neighborhood in the 1980s. From a teenage girl caught in the middle of a gang war, to an Irish 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.

For more information go to

Author Biography: 

Lou Mathews has written seven books and published two of them, "Just Like James" and "L.A. Breakdown", an LA Times Best Book. He has taught in UCLA Extension’s acclaimed creative writing program since 1989. His stories have been published in ZYZZYVA, New England Review, Short Story, Black Clock , Paperback L.A. , and many fiction anthologies. Mathews is also a journalist, playwright, and passionate cook, as well as a former mechanic, street racer, and restaurant critic. He has received a Pushcart Prize and a Katherine Anne Porter Prize, as well as California Arts Commission and NEA Fiction fellowships, and is a recipient of the UCLA Extension Teacher of the Year and Outstanding Instructor awards.


“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"

“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 "The Other Joseph" and "The Eden Hunter"

“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 this novel.”
— Steve Erickson, author of "Zeroville" and "Days Between Stations"

“In these interconnected stories and novella, Lou Mathews inhabits an array of consciousnesses with unstinting empathy and shared sorrow. Shaky Town is ultimately an embrace of all the people—the respectable and the outcast, the casualties and the survivors, the sinners and the sinned against—that make up a Los Angeles at once pitiless and tender, horrible and wonderful, located in actuality and personal mythology.”
— Oscar Villalon, managing editor of ZYZZYVA

“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 East Side 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

Price: $24.50
Share this