Gary Soto writes that when he was five "what I knew best was at ground level." In this lively collection of short essays, Soto takes his listener to a ground-level perspective, recreating in vivid detail the sights, sounds, smells, and textures he knew growing up in his Fresno, California, neighborhood. The "things" of his boyhood tie it all together: his Buddha "splotched with gold", the taps of his shoes, and the "engines of sparks that lived beneath my soles", his worn tennies smelling of "summer grass, asphalt, the moist sock breathing the defeat of baseball". The child’s world is made up of small things - small, very important things.
Everyone in Timber Falls knows that his family is trash, and sometimes Harry White thinks he’ll always be trash. But he can’t help getting angry. After all, what had he and his sister, Helen, ever done to anybody? When he discovers the local carpet factory is polluting the river, he comes up with a bold exposé that, if he is successful, will make people sit up and show him respect. He wants to do it alone even though he knows he’s asking for trouble. As trash, Harry’s got nothing to lose. Or does he?