Bill Broder

Two Russian Bicycles

Two Russian
Bicycles

By Bill Broder

A Fictional Journey into
the Past on Two Novellas

As it might have been recounted
by the author’s great-uncle,
for whom he was named


History Shaped by the Small Battles of Hearth, Friendship, and Love

“Two Russian Bicycles” consists of two curiously related novellas prophetic of the future course of Russian and world history. Both, based on historical fact, reveal how the small battles of the hearth, friendship, and love shape history and underlie the effort to remain human in times bedeviled by a brutal destiny.

“Tolstoy’s Wife” depicts Sonya Tolstoy’s struggle for the love of her husband, Leo Tolstoy—a struggle intimately shaped by her belief in the values that inform Tolstoy’s great novels. She contends with Tolstoy's fear of death and his longing for salvation that drive him to abandon his fiction and become, in her eyes, a "second-rate" prophet of a primitive Christianity. Tolstoy's devoted daughter, Sasha, and his Christian disciple, Doctor Kholkov, join forces to wrest the copyright for Tolstoy's great works from Sonya in order to donate their proceeds to “the people.” Although all the characters act for the highest of motives, their lives are warped by their uncompromising natures. Doctor Kholkov's aborted courtship of Sasha, Sasha's ambivalent relationship to her mother and her enslaving devotion to her father form a moving undercurrent in the tale.

“The Sphynx of Kiev” focuses on the importance of Lenin's character and personal life in shaping the distinctive properties of the two Russian Revolutions at the beginning of the twentieth century. The events take place in Geneva and London at the moment when Lenin forged the foundation for the Bolshevik Party to counter democratic tendencies among his socialist revolutionary peers. The novella dramatizes Lenin's marriage, the break-up of his longstanding friendship and revolutionary partnership with Martov, and the disillusionment of a young follower as Lenin turns to a brutal repression of all ideological enemies within the movement.

Available in trade paper or Kindle on Amazon, Redroom, or through Bill Broder
web sites: www.billbroder.com www.redroom.com/​Billbroder

Selected Works

Meditation
An aged storyteller attempts to retrieve his beloved wife after her accidental fall and her journey through the dark corridors of American medical bureaucracy that led to her death. His quest continues as he confronts the onerous details involved in the administration of that death. To his surprise, the song of his lament turns joyful as he recalls their discovery of one another, the blossoming of their love, and the details of their happy life together. In the darkness of death and bright light of his memories, he slowly invents appropriate ceremonies to celebrate the woman who illuminated his life. His song only ends when he deposits her ashes and discovers that she remains alive within him.
Fiction
THE TEETH OF GOD, a novel about the power and danger of imagination, proceeds on three levels that alternate throughout the work: (1) the life of Eugene Wolfe who practices dentistry in Northern California; (2) a play Eugene has written about Ramon San-Souillard, a California culture hero in search of his soul with the northern California Indians; (3) and the many gods—Christian, Jewish, and Native American--who squabble over the fate of Eugene and Ramon. Each level affects the other levels. The novel ranges in time from 1923 to the present and in place between Detroit, northern California, and Paris. Eugene identifies with Ramon’s wild rebellious spirit, qualities that have been sadly missing from Eugene’s life. Like Ramon, he attempts to find a true home and a soul in which he believes. Eugene’s quest casts his beloved wife Miranda and their three children adrift forcing them to rediscover the meaning of their lives. The inept gods interfere with the progress of the novel and affect the lives of all the characters.
Six Hands Clapping is a unique American family story depicting the recent rise of Zen Buddhism in the United States. The tale is told from the point of view of the children of two American-born Zen leaders. It is a story of love, utopian religious ideals, and human frailty that has been repeated in different forms on this continent since the landing at Plymouth. The novel begins when the mother invites her grown children to witness her suicide at her Women’s Meditation Center in the Yolla Bolly Wilderness of Mendocino County. The children narrate the family history in dramatic scenes as they journey from London, Brooklyn, and the battlefields of the Hindu Kush Mountains. We learn that their mother, like a good Samurai Zen woman, is determined to defeat her enemy, cancer, before it destroys her. As she awaits the arrival of her children, she completes the story of her marriage to their charismatic father, his serial seduction of his Buddhist followers, and the marital break-up.. Although the children have fled Buddhism, their lives have been profoundly altered by their parents’ practice. This final scene confirms the three most fundamental Buddhist principles of existence: impermanence, suffering, and not-self.
BELIEF, A NOVEL a contemporary tale, portrays a man whose search for God and whose caregiving infuriates his family and friends. The hero’s spiritual and fleshly appetites are closely allied. He feels most connected to life and God during the act of loving and love-making.
The lives of the women for whom he cares—wives, daughters, and lovers —unfold as they try to unravel the mystery that surrounds his initial plight. When the book opens, the hero is in a coma supposedly induced by a drunken fall on the edge of a swimming pool. In this state, he is the subject of a number of legal charges relating to his real-estate business, his abetting the flight of a fugitive Weatherperson, and his sexual activi- ties with underage boys and girls. The hero’s lawyer-daughter seeks the true cause of his injury and supposed crimes. The novel proceeds as a mystery story that tracks down the true criminals while revealing the life history of the hero and his family that has placed him at such risk.
The Thanksgiving Trilogy exploits significant aspects of California: its vision of possibilities, its sense of exile and mobility, and its respect for the past -- aspects that have contributed greatly to the development of American culture as a whole. The personal dramas within these three novels are set firmly in the western coastal landscape of the continent.
Broder's "cycle of earth tales" is a tough and brilliant collection of fifteen short stories and fables . . .
Set in Prohibition era Michigan,Taking Care of Cleo is a gripping novel about love, family... and bootlegging.
Historical Fiction
History Shaped by the Small Battles of Hearth, Friendship, and Love “Two Russian Bicycles” consists of two curiously related novellas prophetic of the future course of Russian and world history. Both, based on historical fact, reveal how the small battles of the hearth, friendship, and love shape history and underlie the effort to remain human in times bedeviled by a brutal destiny. “Tolstoy’s Wife” depicts Sonya Tolstoy’s struggle for the love of her husband, Leo Tolstoy—a struggle intimately shaped by her belief in the values that inform Tolstoy’s great novels. “The Sphynx of Kiev” focuses on the importance of Lenin's character and personal life in shaping the distinctive properties of the two Russian Revolutions at the beginning of the twentieth century. Available in trade paper, e books, Kindle, bookstores, libraries, Amazon, or through Bill Broder web sites: www.billbroder.com
Memoir
In his book, “A Prayer for the Departed: Tales of a Family through the Decades of the Last Century” (ISBN 1461138930), Bill Broder honors the elders of his family through a series of short stories. As the youngest son, he acts as witness to the lives of his parents, his uncles and his aunts – lives steeped in the rich mix of a secular America and Jewish belief and ritual.

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