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beside the river

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Beside the River weaves the story of Mrs. Kazumi Matsuoka, an eighty-four-year-old winery owner and haiku master, with the thematic warp and woof of long-term effects of the internment of Japanese Americans while trying to honor her late husband, Senator Sam Matsuoka. “Mattie,” as her friends know her, is trying to realize her dream of transforming a portion of her vineyard property into a wildlife preserve connected to the Mexico-to-Canada coastal walk. To do this, she enlists an injured young Afghan war veteran and comes to terms with a nearby homeless group, some of whom had been co-opted into working in an illegal marijuana grow site in a State Park on the other side of the river.


“Mark Tate, a longtime resident of Sonoma County, has paid attention to the ways that life is lived in our part of the world. He has poured his keen insights into his big new novel, Beside the River, which cuts across time and space, moves from the present to the past and back again. You may not see your own life reflected in Beside the River, but you’re likely to see people and places you recognize. Tate’s epic has it all: the good and the bad, the wrongs and the rights, the flora and the fauna, cops and robbers, the landscapes and those who work them. One of the main characters in this multi-generation, multi-ethnic novel says, ‘One of the marvelous things about humans, we can figure out ways around obstacles. Sometimes, we figure out how to turn disadvantages into advantages.’ It’s in that generous spirit that Tate has written Beside the River, which renewed my sense of community and caring in our dark times.”
—Jonah Raskin—Author of the Tioga Vignetta series of murder mysteries

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