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“Toussaint wants to get out of the suburbs, and Erycha wants out of the ‘hood,” says Norris. “Toussaint’s in search of the black community he didn’t grow up in; Erycha wants to be a ballerina — and ain’t too many ballerinas there.” The book begins with their first meeting at college orientation, then loops back to recount earlier episodes in their lives. Eventually, both families migrate to East Oakland. Norris finds the humor in their struggles, from Erycha’s boyfriend woes to Toussaint’s short-lived glory on the high school football team, where his fellow players call him Tupac because they can’t pronounce his name navy ballet flats. “I really tried to avoid stereotypes,” says the author, “to express things viscerally, as the characters would perceive them, not as what would be most poetic or diplomatic or politically correct.” Norris’ own childhood was closer to Toussaint’s than Erycha’s — his Chicago-born father was a psychologist, and his mom, who grew up in the farm town of Raisin City, was a librarian. Keenan was an only child, one who started reading at an early age — Steinbeck and Larry McMurtry were favorites. When he was 12, his dad gave him a copy of “Go Tell It on the Mountain” by James Baldwin. “He said, ‘Read this and you’ll know more about me,’ ” he recalls..
Norris started writing soon after, and his teachers — including author Susan Straight, who became a mentor at UC Riverside — took notice. “Brother and the Dancer” is his first novel. The book grew out of a series of short stories he began in 2003; eventually, he decided to merge them, with the characters’ ties becoming “a kind of organic linkage.” Norris is still an avid reader. His interests are wide-ranging, and one of his passions is street lit. He’s become an authority on the genre and is the editor of a recently released book of critical essays titled “Street Lit” (Scarecrow Press) navy ballet flats.
On the day we talked, he said he was also close to completing his second novel. Titled “The Almost City,” it’s set in San Bernardino. “It’s about the city that should have been Las Vegas,” he says. “The Mob was all in that area during Prohibition, and liquor got moved into SoCal through there. It’s a kind of underground history of the city — one that’s not in the textbooks.”. Norris says he doesn’t understand why so many emerging authors write about places far from home. “People grow up in Oklahoma and write about New York,” he says navy ballet flats. “But California is what New York was 150 years ago. It’s the port of call, the destination of humanity, and it’s where so many of this country’s problems are getting sorted out.”..
There’s the 24/7 work schedule, replacing the fairy tale of 9-to-5; there’s a hypervigilant society, bent on turning 9-year-olds into professional ball players and ballet dancers; there’s a DIY culture, implying everyone should know how to compost, remodel, do car repair and build solar-powered everything, all while training for a triathlon and raising 2.7 kids navy ballet flats. Un Kwon and Chris Casado lived that life. The San Francisco couple worked in high-tech finance and kept a fast pace with their young son. Until 2009, when they moved their operation to Orinda. Kwon, pregnant with their second child, held late-night, new-mom phone conversations with a college buddy, personal chef (and also new mom) Karen Eddy. They commiserated over the sorry state of family dinners until one night, their commingled angst produced an idea — to create a company offering affordable, reliable, personal shopping based on healthy, easy-to-prepare menus and delivering the groceries straight to the doorsteps of local homes. Chop, Chop, Go! is the culmination of a two-year, entrepreneurial push. With Casado managing website and delivery logistics and working with Whole Foods Market, Eddy creating weekly menus, Heather MacKenzie supplying marketing expertise, and Kwon testing recipes, recruiting clients and adding the vital, personal touch, the meal-planning/grocery-shopping service company launched during the summer of 2012..
“Originally, we had a huge database of recipes from bloggers,” Kwon says, in an interview earlier this year. “It was too busy and overambitious. Recipes had 20 ingredients and were a nightmare to prepare.”. The menus have since been honed to simplicity, mixing and matching recipes so customers aren’t left with a bucket of parsley or forced to toss out exotic, one-and-done ingredients at week’s end navy ballet flats. “That’s the beauty of bringing high-tech to an old-time idea,” Kwon says. “We were able to eliminate inefficiency and redirect the platform to what customers wanted — something easy and something they could trust.”..