Redwood Summer – A Novel


Redwood Summer takes place in San Jose during the pivotal time of 1990; a year that began with the promise of new possibilities as the decades long Cold War was winding down, and ended in the anxious early months of rising military action in the Mideast.

One of the many people of the South Bay Area trying to make his way through the world is Jason, a young man in his early 20s.  As 1990 nears its end and winter approaches, he finds himself staring out the passenger window of a vehicle moving through the business parks of Silicon Valley trying to figure out how the seemingly happy, carefree life he once knew suddenly came to an end.

He thinks back to six months earlier, early summer, when life was at its peak happiness of parties, good times, and a bright, optimistic future, then traces its slow decline over the course of the novel in an extended flashback.  Along the way he reflects upon the changing relationship with his girlfriend, the struggles of his best friend, the dispersal 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 recent past slowly unfolds in his mind, he finally sees the cause and effect of all that happened and how it led him away from his old life.  His memories finally come full circle by the last chapter, he’s back in the truck from chapter one, his new life situation is revealed, and finally conscious of the darkening world around him, he is compelled to decide which path to follow for the rest of his days.

San Jose, and the greater Santa Clara Valley, has a varied and complex history of innovation as well as controversy.  Once covered with farms and orchards, technology transformed the Valley away from its agricultural past onto the cutting edge of progress and was vital to the defense of the United States during the Cold War.  Redwood Summer is an attempt to shine a literary spotlight on this important region in a story of love, friendship, loss, and making choices in a changing world.

The events of Jason’s life also parallel the brief promise of a new era of world peace and unity with the end of the Cold War, and the beginning of the first Persian Gulf War with its resulting abandonment of the peace dividend.  His journey of self discovery is metaphorical of concurrent real life events.

Also, like most historical fiction, Redwood Summer is a comment on the times in which it was written.  Keeping up with technology, surviving the wealth gap, political division, and the cancer of intolerance continue to affect us.  By looking at the past, historical fiction helps us understand the present.

And lastly, Redwood Summer is a tribute to my beloved hometown.

Following are the links to all 17 chapters as well as an opening short story.

The Hill, a short story prologue

Part I  …almost perfect…

Redwood Summer Part I Chapter 1

Redwood Summer Chapter 2

Redwood Summer Chapter 3

Redwood Summer Chapter 4

Redwood Summer Chapter 5

Part II   …San Jose used to be a small town…

Redwood Summer Part II Chapter 6

Redwood Summer Chapter 7

Redwood Summer Chapter 8

Redwood Summer Chapter 9

Redwood Summer Chapter 10

Redwood Summer Chapter 11

Part III   …you don’t want to be caught on the wrong side…

Redwood Summer Part III Chapter 12

Redwood Summer Chapter 13

Redwood Summer Chapter 14

Redwood Summer Chapter 15

Redwood Summer Chapter 16

Redwood Summer Chapter 17

16 thoughts on “Redwood Summer – A Novel

  1. I lived in Monterey in the mid 80s when going to San Jose was not a big deal. We next visited about 2018 on a trip to Monterey. What used to take about 40 minutes was now 2 hours of gridlock. Everything had also gotten a lot more expensive. Not an improvement (in my book). San Diego has gotten worse too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was living in Cupertino in the mid ’80s, but I originally grew up in SE San Jose, not far from Monterey Hwy. The valley has really filled up since then, though last year or two the valley, as well as the greater Bay Area, has been losing people, too expensive. San Diego is a fine city, though I’ve only been there a couple of times. Someday I’d like to visit Petco Park when my Giants play there. πŸ™‚

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  2. California was going down even while I was there. San Francisco had a homeless population wandering the streets, including families. I remember a man and woman with their children in tow, pushing a grocery cart across the street with all that was left for them to own. That was the late 1980’s. Now look at the homeless population in the large cities. North California wanted to secede from South California because the large cities were stealing their water to survive.

    I do remember the drive through the redwoods, it was like traveling through another time. Oh — and I remember how to pronounce San Rafael. Newcomers were easy to spot when they didn’t say San Ra-fell.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I grew up in the South Bay and I remember the homeless population suddenly rising during that massive ’82 recession and it’s been with us since (gotten worse lately).
      Redwoods are America’s cathedrals. They were more widespread millions of years ago but these days only grow along the Northern California coast. Redwoods are only mentioned briefly in my novel but the organized effort to save them during the summer of 1990 is where I found the title (I originally title my novel Heart’s Delight, after Santa Clara valley’s former nickname).
      Yes, if you don’t pronounce San Rafael the correct way you’ll be spotted as an outsider. Same thing when people refer to SF as Frisco. No one who lives between Humboldt Co. and Monterey calls it that, we call it The City.
      Thanks for visiting this page! I’ve put a lot of effort into Redwood Summer over the years and I hope to develop it into the masterpiece I know it can be.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There is nothing like seeing your book in print. I have 3 published and only 23 more to go, but I’m missing 2 important components: A reliable Indie Partner and the funds to pay her or him. One day perhaps (a person can dream).

        BTW: Do you remember the Italian restaurant in San Rafael that was hard to find unless you knew where to look? Best lemon butter prawns ever!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Way to go getting three books published! Hope you find a reliable indie publisher. I haven’t spent a lot of time in the North Bay so afraid I don’t know the name of that Italian restaurant, though I was in Petaluma recently, almost moved there a couple of years ago.

        Liked by 1 person

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