Lunch Bucket Paradise: A True-Life Novel
Published by Heyday Books
It’s 1950, and the great suburban experiment has begun. A new house with three small bedrooms, a garage where you can spend all Saturday tuning up the Chevy or Ford, the promise of a sycamore blooming someday out front by the edge of the postage-stamp, golf-course green lawn. Working people never had it so good. At least, for now. But over the next twenty years, life will change for the narrator’s blue-collar family as tract homes proliferate, wages soar and then collapse, the inner cities burn, and another war begins in a faraway place called Viet Nam.
“The prose is deliciously generous, precise, and evocative, and it carries us through a fully earned narrative arc …. The voice is wonderful, too - intimate and honest without being too much - and it pulls the reader deeply into organic, metaphorical territory that gracefully illuminates, among other things, the psychic minefield the American family can be. I love this story!” – Andre Dubus III, author of The House of Sand and Fog and Townie
"Lunch Bucket Paradise reveals the promise, mystery and danger behind the American dream. Setterberg’s writing is gorgeous, forceful and surprising. He tells a riveting story and makes you a participant in the booming California of the 1950’s, with all the struggles, violence and pleasure that life can bring. You’ll find yourself laughing out loud and wiping tears from your eyes. In the end you will bask in the glow of this great read." – Ralph Lewin, President and CEO, California Council for the Humanities
“Lunch Bucket Paradise is a rare find, a book that in so many scenes and shades of story has an eerie prescience for the future of California, even as Fred Setterberg helps us to remember the state's time of innocence and boom and new asphalt and post-war, all laid over the landscape of possibility. It's the narrator's voice, watching his parents - classic American characters! - navigate their lives as Californians, and Americans, in this place. He's funny, wry, and watchful - a great tour guide to his own place." – Susan Straight, author of Take One Candle Light a Room and Highwire Moon
“A brilliantly clear window onto a world that seems alternately seductive, threatening, and intensely nostalgic (and often all three). I love his storytelling and admire his language. But I have no desire to visit Frog Island with him.” - Jeff Greenwald, author of Snake Lake