By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Author Les Cochran sat at Roman Village, 9924 Dix Ave., Oct. 25 for a book signing in the same place characters from his new book “Sax Club” gathered for dinner.
Cochran said he included the restaurant in the book because it fit the story and its owners are engaged in the community.
In the book, characters meet monthly at Roman Village where restaurant founder Antonio Rugiero serves chianti at the table near the mural inside.
“It’s nice to speak and interact with people who knew my father,” Executive Director of Roman Village Restaurant Group Patrick Rugiero said. “We enjoy supporting people and projects from the Detroit area so it was great to host the book signing here.”
“Sax Club,” Cochran’s latest book, is the first of three from the series “Thorn Birds of Detroit: Confront Mafia” with the “Blind Pig” and “Last Call” following next year.
The idea of the thorn bird was inspired by the people of Detroit Cochran writes about in the book because they share the same drive.
A thorn bird, as written by Colleen McCullough in “The Thorn Birds” leaves its nest to search for a thorn tree, and not resting until it does. Once it has found the tree, the bird impales its breast on a sharp thorn, but as it dies, it rises to sing.
Cochran drew this spirt of determination from the bird to tell the stories of Detroit residents living within the city during the late 1970s.
“These people see their city dying, but they do not give up and keep fighting to live through,” he said. “It’s about people fighting back and their commitment to surviving in the city.”
The book contains characters who are fighting against the Mafia to take back their neighborhoods, as well as entrepreneurs wanting to build their own businesses.
Mike Cruz of Dearborn attended the book signing and said he would introduce the book to his book club as an option to read in the future.
Attendees Janina Jacobs of St. Clair Shores and Denis Paglia of Livonia made the trip to the restaurant to meet Cochran via invitation.
“My motto is that invites lead to great things, so when Patrick invited me I had to attend,” Paglia said. “I was excited to meet Les and get a copy of the book signed.”
“Sax Club” is filled with historical fiction with stories from Cochran’s life in Detroit as a teacher at Western High School and as a student at Wayne State University.
He completed his doctoral degree in industrial education, and worked at Central Michigan University where he became vice provost for Academic Administration.
Next, Cochran worked at Southeast Missouri State University as provost for 12 years before becoming president of Youngstown State University.
Today, he lives in Asheville, N.C. During his academic career, Cochran published four books and more than 50 articles.
Cochran continued his mini-restaurant tour with signings at Detroit restaurants mentioned in the book including, Marcus Hamburgers Oct. 26, The Whitney Restaurant Oct. 26 and Cliff Bells Oct. 27.
To purchase the book go to www.lescochran.com.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])