Stories of the Post-Counterculture

Fiction by William Cook Haigwood

book cover for A Time of Unsearchable Things by William Cook Haigwood

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A Time of Unsearchable Things

Some at the funeral told Jackson Selph his wife's accident was a tragedy though he did not think it a tragedy. He loved his two children and still had his home. Six months later he had lost his children and his home and slept alone on a cot in a country shack. He began to see the vague outline of a tragedy but did not suspect the person he trusted most was a co-creator of his suffering. A chance discovery uncovered a truth that might have freed Selph. Instead, a rash response pinned him tighter in his trap, forcing a deadly and irrevocable choice and a reckoning as old as human misfortune.

A Time of Unsearchable Things is the story of corruptible innocence; of a young, widowed father abandoned by the fickle whim of a god-like boss who, in order to win a bet, allows his most loyal employee to endure a cruel and senseless calamity. Set in Humboldt County California in 1974, this new novel by William Haigwood tells a fateful tale of betrayal against the backdrop of the area's emerging rural Counterculture. It is the first in a series of novels featuring characters grown from the swelling turmoil of the Sixties who collide with uncomfortable realities left in the era's long, insurgent and disorderly wake.

book cover for Davenport by William Cook Haigwood

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Book One of the Davenport Trilogy

When a photographer discovers a 21st century neo-counterculture forming on the beaches of the central California coast, he steals hours away from work and home to record what he sees. At first drawn by the coast's stunning beauty and beaches widely tolerant of nudity and public sex, the photographer becomes entwined with a carnival of anomalous coastal habitués. Some among this pantheon of sybaritic and renegade characters engage his friendship and regard. Others threaten his existence.

Set during the Great Recession of 2007-08, Davenport is the first of three novels that together tell a picaresque odyssey, one that provokes an inescapable confrontation between a bloom of new freedoms and an array of countering and suppressive dangers. As the photographer earns a sudden surge of wealth from his graphic beach photography, he also risks losing his hope, his love and even his life.

book cover for Bonny Doon by William Cook Haigwood

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Bonny Doon

Book Two of the Davenport Trilogy

The photographer's documentary photography of public nudity and sexual encounters along the beaches south of Davenport creates recognition and income beyond his dreams, but also brings him closer to a dangerous edge. Where does his partner go when he's not home? Her secret diary feeds his worst suspicions but provides few answers. And what attracts him obsessively to reports of fatal airplane crashes?

While a growing cast of eccentric, sensual denizens offers exotic and portentous imagery, a looming confrontation threatens the photographer's avocation and existence. He assumed he could manage his dangerous art without becoming directly involved with its inherent threats. He was wrong. Bonny Doon continues the story of a photographer agonistes whose ambitious recording of untamed subjects forces him onto a narrow path between treachery and misfortune.

book cover for Wilder by William Cook Haigwood

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Book Three of the Davenport Trilogy

The unhinging realities of an increasingly dangerous coastal life infect the photographer with deepening insecurities. His controversial images and lurid subject matter bring him still more income and the interest of an art collector but also force him to take greater risks. Meanwhile, the deepening Great Recession threatens to undo any success, while his partner Lucinda faces the possible failure of both her faith and her health.

The vast and newly emerging Counterculture he discovered the previous summer has moved from the beach at Bonny Doon to the sandy coves of Wilder Ranch. The photographer continues to record celebrations and increasingly bizarre encounters that draw him farther into an encircling web of arduous wonders. One, in particular, he cannot resist. With a last, seductive discovery, Wilder concludes the photographer's year of fateful and luminous disclosures.

book cover for Songs of Surveillance by William Cook Haigwood

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Songs of Surveillance

Stories of Spying, Watching and Eavesdropping

Seven stories explore the combustible, violent, funny, tragic and sometimes absurd outcomes that occur when the private experience of one person becomes the unintended and personal possession of another. A woman stalked by a life-saving angel, a city photographer that photographs the unwitting residents of a neighboring highrise, an incautious drug dealer seeking revenge, a widow who discovers she can hear a neighbor's phone conversations through her baby monitor, a failed father watched relentlessly by a social worker as he parents his children, a wife who must reveal embarrassing secrets to prove she is not responsible for the disappearance of her husband.

These are some of the characters that attempt to make meaning from the exposure of the intimate secrets of themselves or others. Set during the last decade of the 20th century, Songs of Surveillance is a wild, suspenseful and at times poignant accounting of lives inadvertently and vulnerably revealed, and the consequences of their unexpected exposure.

book cover for Escape of the Alienated War Babies by William Cook Haigwood

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Escape of the Alienated War Babies

Set in the San Francisco Bay Area during the late Sixties, Escape of the Alienated War Babies depicts a time of resistance and rebellion through the experiences of nine men and women embedded in the social and cultural uprising now recalled as the Counterculture. Each seeks his or her own deliverance from city streets made mean by lingering war, hostile protests, corrupt politics and police oppression.

The great Counterculture diaspora of 1969 scattered tens of thousands of such war babies across a continent as they pursued lives of communal solidarity, self-reliance and personal authenticity. The characters brought to life in War Babies enact the challenges and ask the questions that dominated an era when a divided generation of young adults attempted to negotiate a vast terrain of new and fractious frontiers. The goal of most was to create a liberated, more humane world, to exist without war, to restructure human social relations, to get high and stay high, and to live simply on the land.

But could they succeed? What they sought was rarely what they found and what they found was often more lesson than reward. Though once their journeys began there was no turning back. Alienated war babies needed to learn what was true for each before grasping what might be true for them all.

book cover for An Unexplainable Urge by William Cook Haigwood

For publication fall 2023

An Unexplainable Urge

Why does anyone submit to an urge they cannot explain? Why does a wealthy and prominent judge ruin his career with a petty theft? What does a widow do when she seeks an unauthorized view of the videos her husband made secretly of sex with his previous wife? Why does the girlfriend of a jealous and violent gang boss cheat on him anyway? Why does a man with a fatal illness, as well as loving friends and family, decide to die alone? Why does the indigent mother of a teenage girl refuse to identify her daughter’s father or ask him for help? Why does a prominent businesswoman hound the family of a deceased child until the police are called to stop her?

An Unexplainable Urge is a collection of eight stories that explore the varied motives for, and the unfortunate consequences that result, from powerful and unmanageable urges. Characters who might be expected to know better surprise themselves and others with decisions driven thoughtlessly by an impulse, a passion or an unacknowledged weakness. Such an experience can reveal a humbling truth or helpful revelation. More often it results in an embarrassing or even fatal exposure and ceaseless remorse.