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Mare Island


by Brooks Roddan

 5 x 7 in; 96 pages

Softcover with Flaps

ISBN 9780985977313-6-8

Now Available


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"Another exquisite book from IFSF Publishing and author Brooks Roddan (aka Thomas Fuller). A small book, silky cover, flaps around a rich terracotta color, elegant layout of photos and text... I love the short fragments of thought about empire, the vast ruins of a shipyard that saw the first atom bomb shipped off, a ghostly landscape of war-mongering, heroism and death. The text is personal, understated, made of Pascalian paradoxes, political poetics, intriguing bits of stories about time, memory, and the ambivalence of understanding. "I'd never seen a ruin so human." The author's images are their own haunted tale, as powerful as the writing."

Renate Stendhal


"Mare Island by Brooks Roddan is gem of a book, reminiscent of the chapbooks published in the heyday of City Lights Bookstore during the Beat Era in San Francisco. Combining stunning black and white photography, personal reflections and insightful writing and history, Mare Island paints the picture of both the decay of a once-important naval base in Vallejo, California, as well as it's renewal as a mixed use development that will serve the future needs of Northern California. This is a fun, thoughtful and exquisite depiction of the old and the new, decay and rebirth, and a poetic writing style that charms the reader. Bravo."

—Sam Singer

"An eloquent literary interpretation of Mare Island, the place, its history, and its personal, social, and symbolic meaning."

—Charles Wollenberg

“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


"The haunting images and elegiac prose simultaneously elucidate and disorient the personal and political past, present, and future of a once important, now abandoned, military site. This precious little volume’s poetic fragility encourages one to drop everything and head to Mare Island before it too disappears.”


—Jim VanBuskirk, Librarian and Author


Memoir. 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 theday 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’sseeing, 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 partself-portrait, an extremely personal encounter with the past, present, and a possible future.