Literary Nonfiction. California Interest. Photography. What would it be like to discover your very own ghost town? To stumble upon the place by accident and feel it grow more and more mysterious with every step you take? The buildings, still standing tall with their importance, abandoned, every window broken; heavy equipment in chains, rusting in plain sight; weeds taking over the premises; the feeling that everyone's just left yesterday or the day before.It's this chance encounter with Mare Island, the first naval base the US opened on the Pacific Ocean, once the shipbuilding capital of the western world, home and workplace to over 50,000 people but shuttered by an act of Congress on April Fools' Day, 1996, that leads the writer to make up stories about what he's seeing, and to ask himself questions about his own life that he wouldn't have otherwise asked. MARE ISLAND is part documentary in words and pictures of a place the writer calls, "the Stonehenge of the American empire," and part self-portrait, an extremely personal encounter with the past, present, and a possible future.Established in 1854, Mare Island Naval Shipyard was the first US Navy base on the Pacific Ocean. 514 ships were built at Mare Island and thousands of other vessels overhauled in dry dock during its colorful heyday. Once considered America's military shipbuilding capital, Mare Island was registered as a California Historical Landmark in 1960, and parts of the base were declared a National Historic Landmark District in 1975."Bombing along the highway at the north edge of San Francisco Bay, as we moderns are wont to do, the turnoff to Mare Island passes in a blink, and most of us don't think twice. But Brooks Roddan takes the exit—and finds himself in a sprawling, ghostly monument to the American Empire. Slow down now and walk with him on this provocative meditation on power, impermanence, and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves."—Jay Harris, Former Publisher of Mother Jones
Brooks Roddan lives and works in San Francisco where he writes every day, enjoys making small-scale paintings and collage, and operates IF SF Publishing, leaving town as often as possible to his cabin in upstate Wyoming where nothing is expected of him. He's published a 12 books and chapbooks of poetry, including The Second Dream (Momentum Press 1986), The Light of the Light (Blue Earth Press, 1987), and The Frog Club (Readymade Books, 1992, and The Story My iPhone Told Me (2020). Roddan's written fiction under the pen name Thomas Fuller, his first novel Monsieur Ambivalence (2013) winning an Award in the Fiction Category at the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, following that novel with THE CLASSICAL WORLD, A NOVEL OF IDEAS (2018). His first book of non-fiction Mare Island was published in 2016 under his legal name, selling out its original printing. GOLF IS RUINING MY LIFE, a semi- autobiographical series of meditations on his love-hate relationship with the game, is Roddan's second foray into the nether-regions of non-fiction.