Love and Friendship on the Run
San Franciscos Bay to Breakers race is almost upon us, so Bay to Breakers, by Frank Frost, is an especially timely novel. Its an exciting, moving, fast-paced story about the famous race, the people who run in it, and the city that hosts the race year after year. But this new novel isnt tied to the race. It stands on its own too, and we care about the people in Bay to Breakerspeople we know or could know. Some of them well want to know, and maybe a few wed rather not know. But these are characters who make up the real world and in Bay to Breakers theyre sorting out their lives and trying to make the best of what theyve got. Right now, theyve got the race to get ready for.
Casey is a newspaper columnist whos struggling with his coworkers at the paper and his battle with the bottle, and running every day is half the battle. Janeys a nurse with a history of bad relationships. Shes a runner in every way, but when she trips over another runner whos down in the park she stops to help and new possibilities open up for her. Meanwhile she doesnt know the trouble shes got from an ex-cop gone badthe one who chased her through a lonely San Francisco neighborhood. He didnt like the lesson she tried to teach him and now hes out for revenge. Denzil is a musician just out of jail and on a run through the park blacks out and hit his head. Hes found by the woman he noticed the day before but was too shy to meet. Now shes driving him who-knows-where to get his head fixed. He doesnt care where they go, as long as hes with her. And Mikeys a Downs Syndrome kid who lives at a center where Janey works. Hes sweet and loving and a great runner, and hes training to run in the race. His friend Debby is an inspiration, but when she dies Mikeys well-being is threatened.
These characters cross paths throughout the story; sometimes theyre aware of each other and sometimes only we are. Theyre all in the race, though, and by the eve of the big event theyve all met. Some of them finish the race, and some of them dont, but all of them are changedby the race, each other, time, and all of the strange and synchronistic turns of life.
Frank Frost is professor emeritus of ancient Greek history and archeology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His survey of Greek history, Greek Society, is a top seller in its field. He is also a cook, a jazz pianist, a sailor, a former rugby player, a wine-and-food columnist, and the author of Subversives, a collection of short stories, and Dead Philadelphians, a novel that Fox Films has just put into production. The Los Angeles Times called Dead Philadelphians "wonderfully taut, flexible prose: fast-moving, not a word wasted, always conscious of rhythm, powerfully evocative. Take this one to the beach; you won't regret it."