(But What If There Is No Home?)

Historical researcher and novelist, Jon Foyt, has been active in all facets of real estate: from designer, developer, and contractor to lender, borrower, title researcher, broker, and homeowner. Employing his extensive knowledge, experience, and skills, Foyt explores the homeless problem in a fictionalized Bay Area, visualizing a unique solution involving General Santa Anna’s Land Grant to the leader of the

Mexican War Irish Brigade, the Los Patricios.  


An interlocking skein of stories revolves around a disputed parcel of land and the vexing problem of homelessness.

Foyt (The Gilded Chateau, 2017, etc.) entwines a series of narrative threads revolving around Yerba Buena, an area in California ceded to Mexico in the 19th century when the nation won its independence and then wrenched away by the United States. Sean O’Flannery exits Ireland to escape an anemic economy and the devastation of the potato famine, but he finds little opportunity in America. Out of desperation, he joins the Army and is sent to fight in Mexico as part of President James K. Polk’s westward expansion. Sean eventually switches sides, enticed by more generous wages, and is awarded a land grant for his heroic service, a patch of territory in Yerba Buena. But Sean loses the land while gambling to Baron Wilhelm Von Herzog. Leapfrog to the present, and that acreage has become a lightning rod of political contention, a massive tract of unused territory in a region overwhelmed by widespread homelessness. The land belongs to the Bavarian Club, an upscale, members-only organization zealously protective of its property. Roger Roadhouse, a struggling real estate broker, teams up with Jeremy and Anna Dean, two attorneys, and Angelika Murphy, the multicity and county housing coordinator, and they decide to commandeer the property, taking advantage of eminent domain laws. They creatively argue that the club’s just compensation for its land should be paid with social rather than monetary currency: solving the housing crisis by providing homes on its property will stave off an impending revolution, securing the exalted aristocratic status of its members. In his ambitious novel, Foyt imaginatively conjures a historical timeline that looks at the vacillating claims to the land, provocatively raising questions about the very nature of ownership. And he offers vivid period details and a wide-ranging cast of characters in his complex tapestry. But an overload of subplots becomes tedious to track; one that follows an anthropology professor’s classroom discussion about homelessness is dropped almost as soon as it’s begun. In addition, the author too often traffics in simplistic caricature: one mysteriously sinister real estate broker names her dogs Ayn and Rand.

A convoluted and symbolically didactic meditation on the tension between property ownership and chronic homelessness.

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