Born Under a Bad Sign
A born-agains harrowing autobiography retraces his path from an emotionally impoverished childhood, through a successful criminal career and, finally, to the redemption of the confessional. Razo assures his reader that his story will be unembellished, with no false modesty or undue embarrassment, and after the first few pages, its clear he will keep his word. Razo begins his meditation with his earliest memories of growing up working-class in the dusty, sunny atmosphere of post-war San Diego. Despite the citys burgeoning diversity and sense of opportunity, his veteran fathers American Indian heritage runs the family into trouble and teaches Razo some early lessons on the harsh realities of American culture. Though his family does help keep him in school for a while, his mother and father are over-extended with Razo and his five sisters. Though the emotions run hot between his mother and fatherusually it seems between rage and a begrudging commitmentthere is little feeling left over for the children. Razo doesnt shirk from any topic and provides some unique insights into the awkward presexuality that develops between the members of such a large cloister of siblings, especially when there is only one male to go around. Its a brave choice and makes good on Razos promise of full disclosure. Through the machinations of poverty, prison, drugs and kung fu, Razo eventually impresses a major player with his martial arts and so finds himself one of Hells Angels and on his way toward an illicit seven-figure salary. These years arent overworked with analysis, and even when some regret seeps in, it seems a bit half-hearted (he was having fun, after all). The ragged emotions of such a life, though familiar territory in fiction and nonfiction alike, are still made interesting by their sheer detail and a narrative voice that isnt polished enough to hide the authors hell-bent and engaging character. Razos life is colorful to be sure, and he was even a successful off-roading champion for a spell, but the real interest is Razos unlikely negotiations of the mortal pitfalls of the drug trade amid so many murderedand murderousfriends. Skeptical readers will conclude the author was saved more by a plea deal than by holy intervention, but its Razos storyand there is no doubting that hes told it as he lived it.
A harrowing, willful account of a life led hard and fast.
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