It's where guys with flasks in their pockets line up on street corners at 4am to ride rattletrap buses into agricultural fields to pick tomatoes or top onions. Downtown is rife with greasy diners, fleabag hotels and steamy dive bars. Drunks take cover from the rain in incinerator silos. Boxers bust each other's noses in basement gyms. Dissolute men pine for wives who have ditched them, and dissolute women carp at no-good boyfriends. It's not pretty, yet somehow, through the honesty of it's grime and the earnest way it's inhabitants try to scrape and spar their way out of it, it becomes beautiful. "Fat City" is an Edward Hopper painting, a Robert Frank photograph, a midnight-choir Tom Waits operetta plunked on an out-of-tune piano.
Finding 'Fat City' with the Man Who Wrote It
New York Times