Product page: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1849822409
The product description on this is a little misleading: this is a fiction book about nonfiction research, about investigating the past through oral histories. Ed Rosenberg is a reporter and family man that happens to be the perfect picture of modern journalism: a career journalist brutally laid off, freelancing on multiple projects, toking just to stay sane. He finds himself at the center of several concentric circles of conflict and discovery in modern San Francisco. Even as he tries to investigate a political campaign that came to a bloody end, he’s digging up dirt on an old murder from years ago; even as he tries to quit smoking weed, he’s helping his daughter with a paper on legalization; even as he tries to build a cultural exhibit at a local museum, he’s meeting the old hippies that he’s tasked with writing about; and even as Ed tries to protect his family, he puts them in grave danger. Castleberg wrapped these threads together into a satisfying conclusion.
I sped through this book: Ed is a competent journalist and reading about his interview methods is a real treat. The scholar in me loved the archival research that Ed undertakes as he discovers the players in a 40-year-old Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. Side by side with these players are the great hippie icons of the 60’s, dropping acid alongside the aged people at the center of the modern drama. The criminal enterprises were well crafted. In one scene in particular, Castleberg managed to produce heart-racing excitement when a modern-day character tells a hair-raising story from his past life. That’s a testament to how well crafted those interviews read. There’s plenty more Ed Rosenberg too, this is part of a series.
If I had a criticism, it was that Ed’s family life seemed a bit superficially rendered. I didn’t get a lot of chemistry between him and his wife, and his kids seemed like afterthoughts. Ed seemed far more interested in his work than his family, and that might actually be on purpose, now that I think about it.
Score: Well worth a bowl and a read!