A MAN OF NO RANK; The Memoir of a Storyteller
Story is the essence of the identity of every human being. At birth, we enter a story already made for us and until the story is shattered it is our destiny. Eventually, death, war, accident, bankruptcy or earthly disaster shatters our personal story and we must create a new one to give our lives meaning. This book is the chronicle of one man's progress out of his family's story, through various accidents of life to the meeting of a good woman who helped lead him to storytelling. they devoted the rest of their lives to each other and to their craft. The remainder of the book narrates the arduous path the author took in his career. At the end of the book, the author's life-narrative is shattered by his wife's death. Once again, he must make up a new story—the story of living alone.
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.
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.
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.
Set in Prohibition era Michigan, Taking Care of Cleo is a novel about love, family, and the psychological expense of caretaking in a minority family in a small farming and resort town. The family's oldest daughter, Cleo, is a high-functioning autistic girl. Cleo is both needy, capable, and manipulative as she takes advantage of a chance discovery of a wrecked bootlegger yacht full of illegal whiskey. As Cleo proves that she can live her own life, her family's identity as her caretaker, is shaken and each member must find a new way of life. Her younger sister Rebecca realizes that her sense of self is based entirely on taking care of Cleo, along with her angry desire to an escape. Now that Cleo doesn't need her anymore, who will Rebecca become? This suspenseful and compassionate comedy of errors reveals the complex symbiotic relationship between "caregivers" and "the cared for."
The THANKSGIVING TRILOGY, a fifty year saga, follows a group of friends who left their blood families in the East and formed close relationships in the San Francisco Bay Area – a family formed in exile, as it were. The annual reunion of this “family” takes place at Thanksgiving dinners – a practice of many groups of exiles in the West. Each novel is complete in itself and could be published alone. Although the lives and relationships of the characters are paramount in the work, the three books present a portrait of the human and historical dilemmas in our country for half a century. American literature has long thrived on mining the specific regions that have contributed to the American ethos.
Book one of The Thanksgiving Trilogy:
CRIMES OF INNOCENCE
The tale chronicles the dizzying plunge of a decent man, Jeremy Finch, into the earliest battles that helped define the protest movement of the 1960's. The movement coalesces in 1959 with the hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee in San Francisco, nuclear bomb testing, and the scheduled execution of Carryl Chessman. The novel explores the elusive boundary between "criminal" behavior and "moral" behavior. In the course of these events, the Thanksgiving Family founds The Califia Institute, a think-tank embracing the spectrum of American politics from "ideal-politic" to "real politic."
Book Two of The Thanksgiving Trilogy
A serial killer becomes obsessed with The Thanksgiving Family. He pursues the young women of the family through the parklands of Marin County, California on Thanksgiving Day. The killer operates very much like the "real-politicians" of most countries, who seek to realize their ideals, dreams, and desires through violence. Sections of the novel are presented from the point of view of the killer, a character whose humanity becomes central to the plot and to the meaning of the novel.
Book Three of The Thanksgiving Trilogy
WHAT ROUGH BEAST
Mickey O'Rourke, a fervently revolutionary young woman of the family's third generation, travels to an Encounter with the Zapatista peasants in the highland rain-forest of Mexico. There she meets her Bolivian lover, who becomes the father of her son. She returns to Marin county to work at The Califia Institute and to perform underground dissident work. By now the Thanksgiving Family has become troubled, split and united by marriages, affairs, love, anger, political manipulation, conformity, and rebellion. When Mickey's lover is arrested as a terrorist by Homeland Security, Mickey and The Califia Institute become targets of the U.S. security forces. At the end of the novel, Mickey faces the decision whether to flee the country with her son or to remain at home, facing imprisonment.
A series of fifteen short stories and fables based on historical research that chronicles the way one natural species, homo sapiens utilized its evolutionary intelligence in the invention of technology throughout its history. Eventually, this creative power not only separated the species from the natural world, of which it was a part, but finally, in our age threatens the the existence of the life-sphere of that natural world. The stories range from primitive human life, through Greece and Rome, ancient Judaism, the middle ages, to the late centuries of humankind, culminating in the completion of the railway from the Atlantic to the Pacific at the expense of immigrant Chinese labor and environmental damage.
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. 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.
YET IN ARCADIA
This is the tale of death and its aftermath as it exists even in an Arcadian Village on the shores of the San Francisco Bay in the 20th and 21st century. The characters live on the sloping hills and shores of the bay among cascading streams, ferns, wildflowers, redwoods, Douglas firs, live oaks, California buckeyes, and evergreen chaparral, with every modern convenience. In the course of the novel, we hear of the varied lives that have led each one to this magical place, where they have lived so well. And yet, like all creatures, none are immune to age and eventual extinction. The major narrator of the story, provides memorials to his friends and neighbors. Eventually, must dispose of the remains of his beloved wives, leaving him alone to face his own future departure from this beautiful landscape on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
SIX HANDS CLAPPING
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 that 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 activities 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.
VOLUME ONE: Prose Poems, Essays, Stories, and A Novella
VOLUME TWO: Two Plays: The Sphynx of Kiev; Tolstoy's Wife
VOLUME THREE: Three Plays: Silence Wittgenstein!; The Place Where Something Is; and ABALONE!