Back in print and collected into one volume, stories from Don Bajema's underground sensations, Boy in the Air and Reach.
Hallucinating between childhood and manhood, Eddie Burnett is both hero and anti-hero of this hard-hitting collection of linked stories. Son of dust-bowl migrants to California, he comes of age in the post-war suburbs, freefalling through the turbulence of the sixties and early seventies. The transformation from a boy's innocence to a man's hardened wariness is captured in lyrical, emotionally raw episodes, as Eddie navigates the minefields of American masculinity. In a series of disturbing, yet strangely uplifting odysseys from hope to despair, and back again, he learns — and then must unlearn in order to save himself — the codes of self-destruction and misogyny, and the inevitable inadequacy of the would-be "hero." These are stories written straight from the heart, a gut-wrenching look at the nature of violence and dysfunction, with a hymn to the tenacity of hope, belief and conviction.
"Don is a great writer. His work is worth reading." -- Henry Rollins
"Bajema's prose is surly and mesmerizing, snakes down your throat like a pickup's exhaust. Fans of Sam Shepard will dig these desperate and beautiful tales." -- Joshua Mohr, author of Damascus
"Don Bajema is one of my favorite writers. His stories are tough, honest and sometimes brutal yet they're also merciful, wise and transcendent. Reading Bajema's work is like hearing an ancient, mysterious folk song played by a great rock and roll band in a dark bar somewhere in the Mojave Desert on a hot night. Don Bajema's stories makes me want to go write songs and play guitar too loud." -- Dave Alvin, Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter
"Don gives an articulate voice to the outsider. He captures the fragility of adolescence and the awkwardness; how the random collection of our childhood experiences shape us into the person we are reacting against, coming to terms with and always becoming." -- Dred Scott, Musician
"A smidgeon of Shepard, a bit of Boyle, a cry of Kerouac and maybe a taste of Morrison flavor these original stories of a California life." -- Robert Englund, Actor
"Discovering Don Bajema's literary genius before the rest of the world has caught on is akin to stepping into Gerde's Folk City in '61 and catching a young kid from Minnesota fixing his harmonica in place and launching into a song about 'Hard Rain' or finding yourself at London's Marquee Club in '63 when a group of scruffy hooligans are reverently and rebelliously inventing a groundbreaking, world splitting, stone rolling, blues rock n roll. Bajema's writing ignites agonizing heartache, prophetic insight, immortal swagger, and a redemptive, triumphant love of life. You will beg him to keep on singing." --Pete Sinjin, Musician
"From the moment you meet the thirteen-year-old Burnett in a San Diego suburb, to the moment many years later when he awakens from a bad hangover from a life that used to welcome him, you'll find yourself silently cheering his every small triumph over gravity. Bajema is an enviably powerful storyteller, and Boy in the Air is a walking badass of a book." — Rolling Stone
"Bajema touches all the bases of American life: the pervasiveness of violence, the pain of loss, the strange calculus of race, the bittersweet agonies of family attachments and, always, the signals and skirmishes between men and women." — San Francisco Chronicle
"Eddie constantly seeks a nobler perspective, only to find an illusion, a trick of the mind. . . . As the distinction between right and wrong continues to erode, Reach unveils a very dark answer in the quest to illuminate the human spirit." — LA Reader