Shaken by recent events as the cold winter of 1990 approaches, Jason, 23, can not understand how the charmed life he once knew of parties, good times, and a bright, optimistic future suddenly came to an end, and dreads that it’ll never come back.
As Jason stares out the passenger window of a truck moving through the concrete tilt-ups of Silicon Valley, his memories turn back to the previous summer, and he takes a more focused look at the important events of the last six months in an extended flashback and tries to make sense of it all. He begins in the late spring/early summer, when life was at its peak of happiness, and traces its slow decline. Along the way he reflects upon the changing relationship with his girlfriend, the struggles of his best friend, the diaspora of his greater circle of friends, worsening conditions at his Silicon Valley workplace, his quest for an ever more expensive education, and the gnawing fear that he’s disappointing his family.
As the chain of events play out in Jason’s mind, he sees important details that he had missed earlier, gains a more thorough understanding of what had happened, and begins to question his own beliefs of what he thought his life was. His memories come full circle by the final chapter and he’s back in the passenger seat of the truck driving through the Valley. His new life situation is revealed, and finally conscious of the world around him, he is faced with a decision about which path to follow for the rest of his days.
San Jose, and the greater Santa Clara Valley, has a rich, varied, complex history, and continues to be a vital center of innovation and technology. It is also a flashpoint for controversies such as urban sprawl, racism, runaway real estate prices, and the struggle for economic survival amidst a growing wealth gap. Redwood Summer is an attempt at shining a literary spotlight on this important region. And it is a story of love, friendship, betrayal, making choices, letting go, and finding your voice.
The events of Jason’s life also parallel the brief period of hopeful optimism between the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the first Persian Gulf War with its resulting abandonment of the peace dividend. What happens to Jason is metaphorical of concurrent real life events.
And finally, Redwood Summer is a tribute to my hometown.
Following are the links to all 17 chapters as well as an opening short story.
The Hill, a short story prologue