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Street Cred by C.W. Spooner, reviewed by Casey Dorman

Street Cred

CW Spooner

iUniverse, 2018


C.W. Spooner has a gift. His stories can conjure an image so well that you feel as if you’re actually experiencing it. That was doubly true for me, reading Street Cred, a coming-of-age story that is as much about place as it is character. Nick Shane is a 20-year-old high school grad who just finished two years of college Vallejo, CA Junior College and has taken a job with the city street department while waiting on a baseball scholarship to finish his last two years of college and become a teacher. Street Cred describes the trials and experiences Nick goes through being the youngest member of the street crew, nicknamed “Joe College” and finally emerging as a respected veteran as he finishes his year and heads off to college across the country. In the meanwhile, he parts ways with his long-time girlfriend, sends a buddy off to Vietnam (the story takes place in 1970), and makes new friends. 

Spooner’s style is lyrical. Maybe it helps that I’m from roughly the same era as Nick and spent every summer working on a road crew, plus having a longtime girlfriend and playing sports and even driving an old Ford convertible. But even without the similarities, descriptions such as that below are vivid enough to stir any reader:

“Nick downshifted as they began the climb out of Jenner, heading north on Highway 1. The V-8 rumbled smoothly, more than up to the challenge of the winding road. The early morning air was cool, and they’d left the top up on the old Ford convertible. Now they rolled down the windows to savor the breeze off the Pacific, the pungent mixture of saltwater and kelp.”

The pace of Street Cred is relaxed, as is Nick. The story takes us through a year of his life, and the ups and downs he experiences are typical and realistic for someone that age: not too dramatic but not without tension. In fact, everything about Street Cred seems real, from the romance that flounders of the horns of a geographical separation to the camaraderie and kidding of the street crew—the mutual affection of men who’ve worked hard and worked together as a unit for years. Nick may be “Joe College,” leaving daily manual work behind, but he appreciates what the men on his crew do and they know it.

I read this book with a good feeling. It brought back memories and it made me want everything to turn out well for Nick. It’s an enjoyable, relaxing book to read, and the writing is superb.

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