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Why Write This Book

The Indian

The boundaries of irrationality are very close to every person in every society.  In modern western cultures we pride ourselves in our scientific models of reality and advanced technologies. The reality is that we succumb just as easily as any who came before us to cravings for the supernatural and superstitious. We are squashed against the boundary of irrationality but deny it.

            There is an indisputable relationship between creativity, inspiration and invention and this closeness of our mental being to the irrational. That which is beyond convention, stability or what our social ties would even consider sanity.  Lives in comfortable times dwell in the trivial and insipid and result in the illusion that our surroundings are rational and eternal.  We tolerate this if it is accompanied by stability, civility and order in which we may carry on our lives without peril or disruption.  When this tranquil existence is shattered by the loss of stability and comfort, the irrational floods in and washes away the illusions of tranquility and permanence.

            The most extraordinary times are those where the deluge is not driven by a loss by calamity of physical comfort, wealth, and stability, but rather by a deep dissatisfaction with the superficial and the inane.  These times are rare indeed, especially considering that people who have experienced loss and catastrophe will cling to whatever existed when they were rescued.  The aftermath of the Great Depression and World War II was one such of these calms after cataclysm.  If a society succeeds at growing wealth and power but fails at transferring their fear and vigilance towards the dark tendencies of the world to their children these rarest of times might occur.  The Indian is a chronicle of the final act of one of these extraordinary times.  Like the collector who searches for that rare stamp or coin, capturing this extraordinary time in words is an understandable obsession.

            Why fiction? I have thoroughly and meticulously researched details of events and circumstances that took place in and around Berkeley in this time frame.  I lived in Berkeley during this time and participated in many of the events depicted in the story.  Wouldn’t this be better portrayed in a work of nonfiction?  In fiction there is the ability to mix and concentrate essences of meaning, irony and character in ways much more difficult if not impossible in nonfiction.  It is easier to manipulate the reader’s expectation and set up surprise and awe. There is a greater ability to switch points of view in precipitous and rash ways that slam us into our own humanity and its frailty. Finally, there is a tool set of imagery, imagination and symbolism not available in nonfiction. I have exploited of all of these in this work.