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The setting: Prohibition Era Benicia, California-a major terminal on the Transcontinental Railroad where giant ferries carry 35 passenger trains a day across the Carquinez Strait, connecting Sacramento to Oakland and all points south; a five-mile strip of waterfront property populated by Chinese and Greek fishermen, Italian fruit farmers, Portuguese cannery and tannery workers, itinerant gypsies, and a small minority of Anglo-Americans who own the most valuable property and run the local government with graft and intimidation; a town of opposites where fires and floods are seasonal events, where Dominican nuns educate at one end of First Street and brothels at the other.
The characters and plot: A one-armed African-American auto mechanic who adopts a run-away white boy and raises him to be the leader of a bootleg distribution ring; a deeply troubled woman who drives her doting millionaire husband to suicide and tries to murder her own children; a powerful and corrupt county supervisor who conspires to sabotage the first west coast Democratic National Convention; a ruthless bootlegger who hires Baby Face Nelson to murder law-enforcement officers and rival gang members; a talented young woman attorney who must defend the man accused of murdering her own father.
The historical background: It was during Prohibition that George Santayana wrote: "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
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The central plot of Legends of the Strait involves two childhood friends growing up in a small California town. This novel is more than a coming-of-age story, though. It's about the growing pains of a nation suddenly thrust onto the world stage as a great power and about the "quiet desperation" of individuals struggling with a host of new cultural and economic changes as well as with the age-old conflict between good and evil.
Like all legends, Legends of the Strait is a moral tale. Specifications Publisher Authorhouse. Customer Reviews. Write a review.
Legends of the Strait
Ask a question. After struggling to find a publisher, Robinson approached The Herald about publishing excerpts of his novel. I discovered the Benicia New Era used to have fiction, even though it was a weekly paper. Now, like so many modern authors in the digital age, Robinson has decided to self-publish.
And it will be available locally, too, later this month. Robinson — who moved to Lincoln, northeast of Sacramento, last year — will sign books at Bookshop Benicia at 4 p. Usually what the author tries to do is give readers something of an insight into the kinds of questions someone would ask: Why did you write this?
What does it involve? And I think my book answers a lot of those questions, too.
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Author Bruce Robinson will read excerpts and sign copies July 24 at 4 p. Your email address will not be published. Courtesy photo.