King Of The Moon
A Novel of Baja California
Gene Kira

342 Pages, Hard Cover, 6" x 9"

"Best Mainstream Novel"
--San Diego Book Awards Association

King of the Moon Front Cover.


"An epic..." -- Luis Coppola Bonillas

"Soulful... his best book..." -- Los Angeles Times

"Excellent... strong characters in realistic settings..." -- Ruldolfo Anaya

"A wonderful book that truly touches the Mexican soul!" -- Victor Villasenor

"A...tribute to the dignity, skill and courage of the people of Baja." -- Graham Mackintosh

"Rare... exciting...a book to read again and again." -- Hugh Kramer

"Action-packed saga of the Sea of Cortez." -- Jack Williams

It's midsummer in the tiny
fishing village of Caleta Agua Amargosa,
on Mexico's tropical Sea of Cortez.
A spring rain has buried the only road
through the mountains, cutting off the fish truck
and the only source of drinking water.
The village is dying,
as its families load their weary
skiffs and abandon their homes.
But Socorro, stubborn wife
of the panga fisherman, Abundio Rodriguez,
refuses to let her family leave.
She knows,
in the deep well of her heart,
they will find a way.


KING OF THE MOON is about a dying way of life.

You'll share the hopes and fears, the belly laughs and tears of the Rodriguez family in this affectionate, powerfully told story of the universal human condition.

King of the Moon will enchant you with its cinematic portrait of Baja California fish camp life, its vivid descriptions of the desert and sea, its vibrant fishing scenes, and most of all, its deeply explored, truly unforgettable characters.

There's the mystical Indian, Socorro; her bigger-than-life husband, Abundio; their beautiful, brilliant daughter, Maria Guadalupe; and their stalwart friend, the young and handsome Chino Zúniga.

There's the Italian hermit-philosopher, Fra Nacho; hard-driven Pablo Santos, best fisherman in the village; and his crazed sister, the tormented Margarita, who holds the keys to every secret in her dreams.

And looming over them all is the sure knowledge that their way of life is coming to an inevitable end, for the gill nets, spear guns, seiners, and trawlers will soon destroy the fish they depend upon.

The dark questions come echoing out of the nighttime arroyo of Caleta Agua Amargosa, and in the harsh tropic sun, the Rodriguezes search for the strength and courage to persevere in a world lacking clear answers.

As we follow them through their trials and tribulations -- and finally, their triumphal emergence as early pioneers of Baja California's sport fishing industry -- we discover in this beautiful Mexican family the deep spirituality that gets us out of bed each morning to ride into an uncertain future.

King of the Moon's inspirational message is clear: With love, faith, and acceptance, we can endure and prevail over the human predicament, even though we will never understand it.



“This is a simple, touching story of simple, honest people who live with purity and faith, and who often live on little more than hope and tenacity. Though it is a small story, it has a large heart, offering fresh, picturesque visuals and well developed characters, all of which combine to tell a simple love story which blossoms from the poetic crafting of honest emotion.

“This is, quite simply, a charmer. The tone is consistent and effective, the playful interactions well integrated with the dramatic poverty of a proud and loving community. The POV is interesting, especially the sometimes humorous and sometimes painful view of Americanos. As mentioned, the Baja setting is fresh and vivid, the fishing and water scenes both stunning and (believe it or not) exciting. The final storm scene is dramatic and tense, a fabulous visual episode.

“The resolution is sad and at the same time romantic and satisfying. This story gives a very vivid feel for life in Baja. The narrative is full of sweet little anecdotes, folklore and exposition, some of which is critical to the drama and some of which is not. An adaptation would have to include at least a few of these flashbacks, though they would not seriously compromise continuity or momentum. Overall, this David and Goliath story of strength and pride is heartening, little people who persevere against fate and cheaters. The themes are universal and honest.

“The people of Baja (as respectfully portrayed here) are a strong and brave lot. But the most remarkable aspect of these characters is that they are unique—as a group and individually. Both main and secondary characters have depth, dimension—and arcs! From the one-legged elder to the crazy woman who mourns by moonlight, from the innocent offspring to the intuitive women, this is a wholly endearing ensemble. Every one of these roles is plump with potential, the characters all smart and full in their own way. The myriad of relationships are all well worked, none short-shrifted for another. The honest interaction between mother Socorro and daughter Maria is especially refreshing. (Their talks about sex are hilarious). The central protagonist, Abundio, is brave and noble, a true hero, flaws and all. The close-knit community becomes a character in and of itself, no less vibrant or moving than any individual.

“KING OF THE MOON (a less than inspiring title) is about the human spirit. Though sprinkled with Latin American mysticism, it is a full and balanced tale of a proud community of people, a well crafted story which brings both laughter and tears while conveying its deep sense of humanity and joy, pain and love. It is impossible to convey all the subtleties of this charming story in a synopsis—it should be read to be fully appreciated.”



Somewhere in the arroyo, the lonely old rooster was calling again in the middle of the night.



Over and over, the bird sent its solitary cry through the palm trees and up to the desert stars; and in the village below, Abundio Rodriguez stirred, dreaming on his cot.

Old, ugly, half-dead thing…

Do you wake me just to entertain yourself?


Let me sleep a little longer…

In the comforting dark, Abundio sighed drowsily and pulled a blanket up. Perhaps he would sleep just a little more.

But too soon, it seemed, a woman’s voice called out.

“Bundo! Get yourself up! Chino has already gone down to the boat.”

Abundio opened one eye.

It was morning now, and Socorro’s calloused feet stood beside his cot. Beside them, the bristles of her broom swept the hard dirt floor. Her voice came again as he rolled over and turned his back to the sunlight streaming through the open doorway.

“Get up, Bundo! You go to Las Ramalitas today.”

“Acch… ”

“You drink too much, husband.”

“Ah, well… better a famous drunk than an anonymous alcoholic.”

“You? Famoso? Right now, your own mother wouldn’t recognize you.”

Abundio rolled back to face the room.

“Crazy, ragged old bird.”

Socorro stopped sweeping. She stared at him, gripping her broom with both hands.

“What do you say?”

“His singing wakes me up every night. Don’t you hear him?”

She resumed sweeping.

“Bundo, who are you talking about?”

“Never mind… did you say Chino was here?”

“Two hours ago. He said he would wait at the boat.”

Abundio raised himself on one elbow and squinted at the beach. Two men were in the water, casting nets for bait fish. Beyond them, the awakening sea stretched flat and calm, and just above the horizon, the early June sun hovered—fat and yellow and blinding hot.

There was a skiff running fast in the distance, cutting across the islands, a rolling line of diamonds in its double wake. Two small boys stood up in the bow as the skiff disappeared beyond the edge of view.

Pablo and his sons.

Socorro leaned her broom against the table and she went to the corner of the room, where she carefully counted a mixed collection of bottles containing clear drinking water.

“We still have enough water for two more days.”

He sat up, with his hands on the edge of the cot, and he raised his voice a little louder than necessary.

“It has already been decided. I will go to Las Ramalitas… today.”

“We still have flour and oil.”

“We are almost out.”

“The motor is broken.”

“Today, the motor will work.”

Socorro took up her broom again and began sweeping in silent, dusty circles around the cot.

She was exceptionally short—well under five feet—and her body was round and thick like a little beer barrel. Her handsome face was sun-darkened to the color of roasted chestnuts and her hair was streaked with wide rivers of gray. She had tied it, as she did each morning, into a thick braid hanging down the middle of her back.

And she wore, as she did each day, a simple blouse and skirt of white cotton, held at the waist by a sash woven in patterns of red and blue.

She wiped her hands and went outside to the fire barrel, smoking under the palm-thatched porch roof. There, she checked a thin, round sheet of dough that had been cooking on a piece of cast iron. When the tortilla was blistered and slightly browned, she lifted it with her fingertips and added it to a stack on a board beside the barrel.

She threw a handful of dry twigs into the fire, watched them crackle up, and then went back inside to sit on the cot with her husband.

“The wind will probably come again this afternoon. If it does, stay with Ramón tonight.”

Abundio looked out at the water, noting the sparkles raised by the first morning breezes on the horizon.

“There will be no wind today. But if there is… we will stay with Ramón. We will come home tomorrow.”

He struggled up from the cot.

He was a very large and powerfully conceived man, a massive giant nearly two feet taller than his wife and a full head taller than any other man in the village.

But he was gone badly by.

His legs, once hard with sinew, were heavy and shapeless, and they wobbled beneath him like drunken tree trunks. They were covered by a pair of baggy black pants, held up with a piece of yellow plastic rope whose ends he had burned to stop them from unraveling. Over this belt, his bare belly pushed out, round and smooth, as though he were perpetually carrying a sea turtle made of tanned human flesh.

His dark brown face was still dreamy and half-full of the night. It was split horizontally by the outstretched wings of a mustache that blended gradually into a gritty, three-day beard and a mass of stiff, black hair.

And his hands were enormous, tormented, work-twisted, fisherman’s hands, inlaid with overlapping cuts and punctures and the memories of missing pieces. The bones popped and snapped as he flexed them.

He walked unsteadily to the doorway and he leaned his forehead against his crossed wrists on the wall above the frame, looking out at the silent, slowly moving sea, the rising tide, filling yesterday’s muddy footprints one-by-one.

For another minute, he stood there, watching the water, summing up the tasks of the long day ahead.

Then he ducked out to the porch. He lifted a bucket of cloudy yellow water over his head and he rubbed his face as the musty-smelling liquid ran off his elbows and soaked into the sand. He took a mouthful, but resisted the urge to swallow, and spit it out again.

Socorro’s voice came from inside the house.

“Bundo, remember to take your boots. The motor… ”

He cut her off as he used the knuckle of his right thumb to squeegee water from his eyes.

“Socorro! Stop worrying! The motor will work today! But… I will take the boots just in case.”

The boots hung from one of the crooked mesquite poles supporting the porch roof. They were round-toed military boots, dull black and heavy. Abundio turned them upside down, knocked them together a few times, and slung them on his shoulder.

Socorro came out with the tortillas wrapped in a large red handkerchief. She brushed a strand of hair from her face with the back of her wrist, and she stretched herself on the tips of her bare toes as he bent over to let her kiss him on the cheek.

“Bundo, drink something before you go.”

“I am all right.”

“Then take the good gallon with you.”

“Chino has some… from yesterday.”

She held on to his arms, looking up at him.

“Husband, we could easily wait another day.”

“I promise, if the wind comes again, we will stay tonight with your brother.”

He searched through the thin cotton material of her blouse, tickling her. She kissed his cheek again, more softly, then dented his belly with a stiff finger.

“Truly, you are an old goat.”

“I am a man of infinite passion and romance.”

“ …and a very bad hangover, borrachón.”

His hand opened inside her blouse.

“Perhaps… I will not go to Las Ramalitas today after all.”

“Perhaps Chino has already left without you.”

That was a definite possibility, given the hour and the fact that the winds had made the sea dangerous by mid-morning each day for the past week.

Copyright © Apples & Oranges, Inc. Reprinted with permission.