By Ray Reece
Ray’s somewhat autobiographical novel, “Abigail in Gangland,” was published in 2007 in the United States and had previously been published in Hungary in 2005 as “Go Play with Your Aunt!” In fact, the cover of the Hungarian version features a protagonist that can only be described as non other than Ray Reece himself. The novel was well received in Hungary with the US market equivalent of 45,000 copies being sold.
Richly detailed and provocative, “Abigail in Gangland” is an ironic portrayal of a previously middle-class Anglo neighborhood now occupied by Hispanic immigrants. The story is told through the eyes of Luke Thrasher, who, after 30 years as an artist in Manhattan, has returned to that neighborhood to care for his ailing and senile Aunt Abby.
Despite the lure of earning a million dollar inheritance, Luke almost immediately questions his decision to return home to Texas. The problem is that Aunt Abby lives in the middle of an Hispanic gang-controlled area of the city and her natural racism is exacerbated by her increasing dementia.
Luke inevitably runs afoul of the Latin Blades when he falls in love with Raquel, the mother of one of the principal gang members. The fact that she served time in prison for murdering her husband does not diminish her dark beauty in the eyes of Luke Thrasher.
Corporate takeovers, suburban sprawl, and social and political injustice make up the confrontational world of “Abigail in Gangland.” Spiced with sex, marijuana and gunfire, Ray’s novel is a darkly comic celebration of the rebel life.
According to Ray, the story of Abigail was based on actual care-giving experience including an episode with marijuana. Equal parts social movement and urban mayhem, Ray saw the book as a neo-beat anthem to the virtues of cannabis in all its manifestations from medicinal to recreation and industrial uses.