By Erin Free

517x44lm+OL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_WHAT’S IT ABOUT? When the tough but tarnished John “Speedy” Hancock fights and fends his way back to his shattered home turf of California’s depressed early-eighties Oakland area (picking up a stray kitten along the way) after being released from Pelican Bay State Prison, he doesn’t like what he finds.  His promising younger brother, Willy, is now strung out on crack and dabbling in a life of crime, and his best friend, Fat Bob, is risking life and limb by working as a bouncer in Oakland’s worst clubs and bars. This decidedly unholy trio is sparked into violent and bloodstained action when two of their childhood friends are chained up and thrown into The American River alive by a gang of ruthless Mexican drug dealers. Though locked, loaded and out for revenge (and with a side plan to rob the Mexican gang of their considerable stash of cash and drugs), Speedy, Willy and Fat Bob are hit with obstacle after obstacle: Speedy falls for a beautiful phone psychic called Carmel, and gets temporarily waylaid from the cause, before igniting the ire of a gang of vicious white supremacist skinheads; rekindling the interest of Officer Louis, the cop who put him away, and who now has a curious agenda of his own; and becoming an unlikely figure of obsession for Ghost, a maniac prowling the mean streets of Oakland deafened by the cacophony of voices in his head.

WHY WOULD IT MAKE A GOOD MOVIE? Penned by Pearce Hansen – the product of a rough-and-tumble childhood who has experienced temporary homelessness, and knows the ugly, crime-infested streets of Oakland like the back of his scarred hand – Street Raised pulsates with energy, anger, gallows humour, and shocking, incendiary violence. Its characters, meanwhile – though often brutal, cruel and unforgiving – are also strangely sympathetic and relatable. It’s a tough, exhilarating read, and while it would hardly form part of the grist for the studio system mill, Street Raised would make for a powerfully entertaining mid-level indie crime flick, occupying the same kind of territory as the likes of Only God Forgives, City Of God, and Amores Perros.

winters-bone WHO SHOULD MAKE IT? With her grittier-than-thou indie flicks, Down To The Bone (2004) and Winter’s Bone (2010), Debra Granik has proven that she not only knows her way around the issues of drug addiction, but that she also has a master’s touch when it comes to working with actors (she discovered Jennifer Lawrence), depicting crime-wracked communities in crisis, and point-blank refusing to pull any punches.

WHO SHOULD BE IN IT? Speedy Hancock is a truly great leading character: a winning mix of ruthlessness, surprising sensitivity, and hard-nosed criminal charisma. After his turns in Drive and The Place Beyond The Pines, Ryan Gosling would fit the bill perfectly. In support, up-and-comer, Dane DeHaan (Lawless, Chronicle), has the right mix of intelligence and vulnerability for Willy; Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full Of Grace) could bring the requisite earthy warmth to Carmel; a beefed up Ben Mendelsohn would rock as Fat Bob; Woody Harrelson would import a ringing sense of threat and unpredictability to Officer Louis; and Aussie-on-the-rise, Thomas M. Wright (Top Of The Lake, The Bridge), could ratchet up the demented menace as the singularly chilling and disturbing Ghost.

  • Pearce Hansen
    Pearce Hansen
    26 June 2016 at 5:56 am

    Thanks for your kind thoughts.

  • Pia
    26 June 2016 at 3:12 pm

    I read this book years ago. It is a fast read and it was so intense but I couldn’t put down. I just had to know what happened next. One mean little book.

  • Hammerin' Hanke
    Hammerin' Hanke
    3 August 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Fat Bob is my hero. This book rules.

  • Ewok Lokitree
    Ewok Lokitree
    26 June 2017 at 4:38 am

    I hope it becomes a movie . . I was born in Oakland in the late 70s . It would be really cool to see the time frame from this perspective

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