Meallet, Sandro 1965-
MEALLET, Sandro 1965-
PERSONAL: Born 1965, in San Pedro, CA; married; wife's name Melissa; children: Alonzo. Education: University of California, Santa Cruz; New School for Social Research, M.F.A.; Johns Hopkins University, M.F.A.
ADDRESSES: Home—Sonoma, CA. Office—c/o Doubleday Publicity, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036.
Edgewater Angels, Doubleday Publishing (New York, NY), 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: Edgewater Angels is Sandro Meallet's first book, a story about surviving the slums of San Pedro, California, where Meallet himself grew up. Edgewater Angels portrays a group of young boys living in a world of long-absent fathers, murders, stray bullets, and gangs. At the same time, the boys go fishing and crabbing, oversee a swimming contest, and eventually engage in auto theft. Their story is told by Sonny Toomer, one of the few boys who grows up and escapes the fate awaiting most of his friends: drug addiction, prison, and death. Toomer watches his uncles beat and maim a hitchhiker, but he visits the library to indulge his secret interest in reading and classical music. He and his friends go on a long crime spree, a series of GTA's (grand theft auto), but they also give a homeless man they have never known a funeral and help deliver the baby of an injured woman. The unexpected kindness of such acts is the source of the book's title. The dying homeless man tells them, "How wonderful you've become . . . like angels."
Meallet's combination of love for his protagonists and ghetto realism won over several critics. Washington Post contributor Carolyn See found Edgewater Angels to be "in a class by itself." Katherine Dieckmann, writing for the New York Times Book Review, said that the book "forgoes easy sociological posturing and pity-inducing story lines, presenting instead an exuberantly absurdist look at growing up poor and shrouded by violence." Thomas Curwen of the online Calendar Live, remarked that Meallet's young heroes give a human, sympathetic face to the parade of juvenile criminals in Southern California. Ianthe Brautigan, writing for Metroactive, similarly noted Meallet's ability to "write about poverty in a way that doesn't make the reader feel like a voyeur." Brautigan concluded, "Meallet imbues all his characters with a dignity that helps us avoid the pity or the sense of the exotic that can infect a middle-class person reading about different cultures or classes."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2001, John Green, review of Edgewater Angels, p. 1847.
Library Journal, July, 2001, Andrea Caron Kempf, review of Edgewater Angels, p. 125.
New York Times, August 9, 2001, Richard Eder, review of Edgewater Angels, p. B8.
New York Times Book Review, August 26, 2001, Katherine Dieckmann, review of Edgewater Angels, p. 20.
Progressive, October 2001, Dennis Bernstein, review of Edgewater Angels, p. 44.
Publishers Weekly, July 16, 2001, review of Edgewater Angels, p. 159.
Washington Post, July 20, 2001, Carolyn See, "Life Between the Fusillades," p. C4.
Calendar Live,http://www.calendarlive.com/ (August 19, 2001), Thomas Curwen, "Angel Dust."
Metroactive,http://www.metroactive.com/ (October 7, 2001), Ianthe Brautigan, "Heaven Sent: Sandro Meallet Dazzles Readers With 'Edgewater Angels.'"*