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Publication Date

Spring 2016

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Comparative Literature


Nicholas Taylor


Agriculture, Bay Area, California, Fiction, Novel, San Jose

Subject Areas

Creative writing


In literary fiction, memory, a common topic, quite often encompasses the loss and reclamation of the personal, individual details of a character’s life. The Upstart Orchard not only investigates the loss of personal memory, but also attempts to answer how one preserves and remembers the loss of place and time in a world rapidly modernizing and disappearing. The protagonist, Harold, having grown up in a South Bay Area world cross-pollinated by the past and future, seeks to preserve the memory of his grandparents and their agrarian lives, symbolized by their decaying home. He struggles against the encroaching Silicon Valley and the cultural charge away from orchards and toward

Wi-Fi. A chance discovery of a new technology acts as a catalyst, inviting Harold into the tech world through the realization that creating a startup company with his roommate and business partner may be the only route to achieve his goals. This new technology, a fruit that transforms the eater into a temporary wireless Internet hotspot, juxtaposes those two conflicting worlds vying for dominance in the South Bay Area, with Harold caught in the battle. He meets a young woman, Olivia, who expresses a similar distaste for the tech world and a deeply rooted desire for preserving lost and disappearing histories. The novel follows Harold’s point of view, tracing his creation of an orchard startup and his budding relationship with Olivia, and readers are pushed and pulled by Harold’s transformation from cynical tech misanthrope to CEO of his own agrarian startup company.