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Valley history backdrop to ‘Hollywood Cafe’ mystery

Valley history backdrop to ‘Hollywood Cafe’ mystery

POSTED December 1, 2009 10:09 p.m.

“There was no moon that night when two men knocked on the door of the Hollywood Cafe.”

That’s the opening sentence of Central Valley native Richard Dokey’s latest literary project, “The Hollywood Cafe.” What follows is a grisly murder, a hidden treasure, and an unfolding tale of the changing landscape and culture of the Central Valley towns located up and down Highway 99.
“On the surface it is a mystery novel, but below that is a story about realities and perceptions,” Dokey said. “The whole novel is a play between what is real and what is make believe.”
Dokey, a well-published author, has long been a chronicler of the Central Valley. In his latest creation he intertwines a mystery with the Valley’s transition from sleepy little farm towns that sprang up along the old two-lane Highway 99, to the growing hustle and bustle communities of today.
The story draws its title from the Hollywood Cafe in Lodi that recently shut its doors after decades of serving hungry diners.
“The history of the cafe is a metaphor for the history of the Valley,” Dokey said. “It’s used to dramatize what has happened to the San Joaquin Valley between then and now.”
Set in contemporary times, “The Hollywood Cafe” is told through the eyes of Harry, who owns the beleaguered diner.
“It’s an interweaving tale that is told in a very casual tone,” Dokey said.
Born in Stockton and raised in Lodi, Dokey has called the Central Valley home for the majority of his 76 years. He was educated at UC Berkeley and spent his career teaching high school English. He continues to teach philosophy at San Joaquin Delta College and wrote a regular column for the Stockton Record for numerous years.
Dokey has written several other novels, plays, and short stories. He’s won numerous awards and citations for his writings, including Best American Short Stories and a nomination for the prestigious Pushcart Prize.
One of his first stories, “Sanchez,” published in 1967, is now part of Norton’s Introduction to Literature and is regularly taught in English classes.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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