Love and Friendship on the Run

San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers race is almost upon us, so Bay to Breakers, by Frank Frost, is an especially timely novel. It’s 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 isn’t tied to the race. It stands on its own too, and we care about the people in Bay to Breakers—people we know or could know. Some of them we’ll want to know, and maybe a few we’d rather not know. But these are characters who make up the real world and in Bay to Breakers they’re sorting out their lives and trying to make the best of what they’ve got. Right now, they’ve got the race to get ready for.

Casey is a newspaper columnist who’s struggling with his coworkers at the paper and his battle with the bottle, and running every day is half the battle. Janey’s a nurse with a history of bad relationships. She’s a runner in every way, but when she trips over another runner who’s down in the park she stops to help and new possibilities open up for her. Meanwhile she doesn’t know the trouble she’s got from an ex-cop gone bad—the one who chased her through a lonely San Francisco neighborhood. He didn’t like the lesson she tried to teach him and now he’s out for revenge. Denzil is a musician just out of jail and on a run through the park blacks out and hit his head. He’s found by the woman he noticed the day before but was too shy to meet. Now she’s driving him who-knows-where to get his head fixed. He doesn’t care where they go, as long as he’s with her. And Mikey’s a Down’s Syndrome kid who lives at a center where Janey works. He’s sweet and loving and a great runner, and he’s training to run in the race. His friend Debby is an inspiration, but when she dies Mikey’s well-being is threatened.

These characters cross paths throughout the story; sometimes they’re aware of each other and sometimes only we are. They’re all in the race, though, and by the eve of the big event they’ve all met. Some of them finish the race, and some of them don’t, but all of them are changed—by 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."

Bay to Breakers
A Novel
Frank Frost
ISBN 1-56474-395-0
224 pages, paperback, $14.95

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