Tell Us When To Go, the third offering from local author Emil DeAndreis, hit the stands this fall, and he will read from the book Dec. 4 at Book Passage in Corte Madera.
DeAndreis was born and raised in the Bay Area and resides in Corte Madera with his wife, Kendall, and his son, Ennio. He teaches English at College of San Mateo, contributes articles monthly to the INvisible Project and spends what free time he has left between his friends, family and writing.
DeAndreis was born and raised in the Sunset District of San Francisco, where Tell Us When To Go is predominantly set. His parents taught music from their apartment and, through this, DeAndreis formed lasting friendships that helped to color his writing later in life.
“My friends and I would take the bus home together—they would have their music lesson and then they’d come upstairs to hang out,” said DeAndreis “Now, years later, we’re all still best friends. We were in each other’s weddings and had kids at the same time. I think that’s part of why people are drawn to the warmth and humility of the male friendships in my book, because my experiences with my own friend group left me with lasting and enduring relationships that I can render sincerely in my writing.”
After graduating from high school in San Francisco, DeAndreis attended the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and played baseball there for four years. At the end of his time at university, he was presented with an opportunity to pitch professionally in Europe. But, in the same month that he received the contract, he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. DeAndreis considers this period of his life as a crossroads where everything he knew about himself was turned on end.
“After being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, my body was physically limited and I was reconciling myself with those physical limitations,” said DeAndreis. “I appreciated the cerebral element of writing, which I used to find in baseball, and found that writing didn’t require the same physical element, but it challenged my mind and kept me occupied.”
DeAndreis leaned into writing and pursued his Masters in Fine Arts and Creative Writing at San Francisco State. He then moved out from home and lived in a less-than-pristine Sunset District flat with his friends. During this time period, he worked as a substitute teacher, attended night school and wrote as many short stories as he could. Then, in 2013, his first book, Beyond Folly, came out, shortly followed by his second book, Hard to Grip, in 2017.
“Originally, when I was substitute teaching, I would take all kinds of jobs all across the city, of all subjects and all ages,” explained DeAndreis. “Such a kaleidoscope of lived San Francisco experiences made it into my writing in one way or another. I felt that certain students and the narratives of these students deserved to be known and, if I didn’t write them, they wouldn’t be told.”
The concept for Tell Us When To Go originated during DeAndreis’ honeymoon in Belize: “It was storming and my wife and I were shacked up in our little rental for the afternoon ’cause it was dumping so hard outside—that’s when I started writing,” said DeAndreis.
DeAndreis’ newest book combines his collection of lived Bay Area stories and experiences to take its readers on a millennial coming-of-age journey through the familiar lens of the Silicon Valley tech boom of the 2010s. The book follows the friendship of two young men, Cole and Isaac, as they face the trials and tribulations of early adulthood, focusing on their relationship as it begins to diverge in a manner that reflects the city itself. Tell Us When To Go is told across one semester and explores a city amidst change as well as the people and friendships that are liable to change with it.
“We’re sort of living in the aftermath of a tech renaissance,” said DeAndreis. “Even in this week and the last couple of weeks, certain elements of the downfall are viral news. That guy that did FTX cryptocurrency exchange and lost millions and the Elon Musk and the Twitter thing—these are all extremes of what’s been happening in the Silicon Valley on a smaller scale for a while now. In a way, my book acts as an origin story to all of this. A lot of people who were here in 2010 will feel a connection to the observations the book makes.”
Tell Us When To Go, described by DeAndreis as being part Silicon Valley satire, part urgent glimpse into the darker sides of privilege and class disparity, is told from the perspectives of tech employees, public school teachers, failed baseball players and foster children. The book explores the friendships and lives impacted (for better or for worse) by the San Francisco tech boom.
“My book is contemporary fiction with a little bit of humor and the tenderness of these improbable friendships taking form and some of the sadnesses, realities and lived experiences of living in San Francisco,” explained DeAndreis. “Some people find it humorous, some people say the friendships were most profound and some people just really liked the baseball elements.”
Tell Us When To Go was finished during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and was met, according to DeAndreis, with a lot of rejection. However, the longer his book took to find a home, the more DeAndreis told himself that he would work doggedly to breathe life into the book to give it a chance to shine.
Now, thanks to his hard work, determination and skill, Tell Us When To Go is set to stun readers with its raw, familiar and nostalgic take on a city that’s changing almost as fast as the people who live there.
“It’s lonely and scary if you go into writing a book with the expectation of success and praise, so I try and write for reasons that are different than that,” explained DeAndreis. “But I think that I’ve been really really lucky that there have been stepping stones of success that opened up my book to being considered something you want to buy and read.”
Emil DeAndreis appears at 4pm, Dec. 4 at Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera. For more information, visit emildeandreis.com.