In Welcome to Oakland, the T-Bird Murphy of Williamson’s internationally acclaimed novel, East Bay Grease, is now a man. He’s been divorced twice, and he finds himself hiding out in a garage in rural Missouri for a reason we’re never told, confused and stunned, shell-shocked by the hand life has dealt him. He opens his story, “I’m always happiest when I live in a dump, and I’ve lived in some serious shitholes,” but it’s difficult to believe him. What unfolds is the story of a working man who tries his hardest to escape the hell of the Oakland ghetto, who finds honor in squalor, kinship among the broken divorcees of Dick’s Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge, dignity and beauty at the garbage dumps where he sleeps in the cab of the scow he drives for a living.
ERIC MILES WILLIAMSON is an American novelist and literary critic, member of the Board of Directors of the National Book Critics Circle, and editor of American Book Review, Boulevard and Texas Review. Currently he is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.