As the cold winter of 1990 approaches, Jason, 23, is staring out the passenger window of a vehicle moving through the business parks of Silicon Valley as he tries to figure out how the seemingly happy, carefree life he once knew suddenly came to an end.
He thinks back to six months ago, early summer, when life was at its peak happiness of parties, good times, and a bright, optimistic future, and traces its slow decline in an extended flashback. Along the way he sees 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 sense that he’s disappointing his family.
As the recent past plays out in his mind, all the random events begin to connect and he comes to understand what had really happened, and begins to question his old beliefs. His memories come full circle by the final chapter, his new life situation is revealed, and finally conscious of the world around him, he is confronted by a dark reality that compels him to make 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 is a story of love, friendship, betrayal, making choices, and finding one’s 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 beloved hometown.
Following are the links to all 17 chapters as well as an opening short story.
The Hill, a short story prologue