Home Baked: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco (Hardcover)
During the '70s in San Francisco, Alia's mother ran the underground Sticky Fingers Brownies, delivering upwards of 10,000 illegal marijuana edibles per month throughout the circus-like atmosphere of a city in the throes of major change. She exchanged psychic readings with Alia's future father, and thereafter had a partner in business and life.
Decades before cannabusiness went mainstream, when marijuana was as illicit as heroin, they ingeniously hid themselves in plain sight, parading through town—and through the scenes and upheavals of the day, from Gay Liberation to the tragedy of the Peoples Temple—in bright and elaborate outfits, the goods wrapped in hand-designed packaging and tucked into Alia's stroller. But the stars were not aligned forever and, after leaving the city and a shoulda-seen-it-coming divorce, Alia and her mom returned to San Francisco in the mid-80s, this time using Sticky Fingers' distribution channels to provide medical marijuana to friends and former customers now suffering the depredations of AIDS.
Exhilarating, laugh-out-loud funny, and heartbreaking, Home Baked celebrates an eccentric and remarkable extended family, taking us through love, loss, and finding home.
About the Author
ALIA VOLZ is a homegrown San Franciscan. Her writing appears in The Best American Essays 2017, the New York Times, Tin House, Threepenny Review, River Teeth, Nowhere magazine, Utne Reader, New England Review and the recent anthologies Dig If You Will the Picture: Writers Reflect on Prince and Golden State 2017: Best New Writing from California. A 2018 MacDowell Colony fellow, Volz has also been an Artist in Residence with Writing Between the Vines and the Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat. The Squaw Valley Community of Writers awarded her the Oakley Hall Memorial Scholarship twice. She was runner-up of The Moth’s GrandSLAM Championship in 2014 and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
"I devoured this book! Sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, a savvy business woman, a social and medicinal revolution: What’s not to love? This is a story Alia Volz was born to tell."
—Rebecca Skloot, bestselling author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
"In Home Baked, Alia Volz manages not only to write about her parents with clear-eyed compassion and empathy, she also gives us a rich history of San Francisco in the 1970s and 1980s. As I read, her family and the city came alive for me: every person and street were vivid, complicated, tragic, and beautiful. I loved this engrossing, informative, funny, and heartbreaking book. Volz is a true talent."
—Edan Lepucki, bestselling author of Woman No. 17, California, and others
"A hilarious, heartfelt, and unforgettable debut. I gobbled it up like a pan of fresh-baked brownies. Having come of age in the Bay Area when the Sticky Fingers operation was at its height, I devoured every last morsel of this evocative and occasionally heartbreaking tale, which is as much a deep dive into San Francisco’s weird and fast-evolving weed scene as it is about Volz’s unforgettable family. 'Eat it, baby!' was the bakery’s motto: for Alia’s wonderful book, I say 'Read it, baby!'"
—Julia Flynn Siler, bestselling author of The White Devil’s Daughters, The House of Mondavi and others
"Home Baked is a deeply touching, funny, wise, and magical book. By telling her eye-popping family story and transporting her readers back to the kaleidoscope days of Northern California in the last quarter of the 20th Century, Alia Volz gives us not only an indelible memoir but also an intimate social history of the mom and pop marijuana business and how it revolutionized the world. With Home Baked, Volz joins the colorful parade of writers who have brought 'San Francisco Values' fully to life, including Hunter S. Thompson, Armistead Maupin, Warren Hinckle, Diane di Prima, Richard Brautigan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Dave Eggers and Michelle Tea.
—David Talbot, bestselling author of Season of the Witch and The Devil's Chessboard
"Home Baked hit me with the joy and sting of recognition. Here is a heroine I understand: a bad-ass mom doing legitimate yet illegal work that provided for her daughter, but also shaped a community. This wonderfully written memoir delivers a world of risk and drugs and secrecy alongside heavy batches of love and wit and courage. Alia Volz deftly blends in social context with her coming-of-age story, concocting a fantastic history lesson on everything from marijuana laws to the AIDS crisis to the transformation of San Francisco, where she herself was home-baked. I loved this book, got high off its intoxicating allure; long after I read the last page, I couldn’t come down."
—Bridgett M. Davis, author of The World According To Fannie Davis
"The unheralded story of San Francisco's trailblazing 'Brownie Lady' plays out across more than 20 tumultuous years of the city's often tragic history...[Volz] combines a journalist's eye for detail with a storyteller's sense of humanity to chronicle all the incredible highs and lows, both public and private...The author's firsthand depiction of AIDS and its devastating initial impact on San Francisco's residents rings with epic tragedy. Thankfully, there are plenty of triumphs in the Sticky Fingers saga as well, and Volz herself embodies just one of them. A sometimes-sad yet stirring love letter to San Francisco filled with profundity and pride."
"Volz had been a part of her mother’s special marijuana-brownie business for as long as she could remember...From the turbulent ’70s through the ravages of the AIDS crisis (during which Mer and Alia distributed marijuana to AIDS patients), Volz recounts her mother’s exploits with admiration, along the way tracing how attitudes about cannabis have shifted toward more acceptance."
“Home Baked is a version of a bootstrap story so unusual and crazy-cool it’s hard to look away from, let alone put down...What a coming of age story—in the personal, but also in the larger sense of an era in San Francisco fueled by music, dancing, and being high that evolves into the City Hall murders and the devastation of AIDS. Home Baked kept me up late reading from start to finish.”
—Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield’s Books
“Home Baked is an exhilarating, kaleidoscopic book that—with exceptional writerly skill—captures an era of San Francisco history that impacted the entirety of the United States, both culturally and politically, in the latter decades of the 20th century…[It’s] a beautiful read that narrates an important story and introduces Alia Volz as a writer of extraordinary talent.”
—Paul Yamazaki, City Lights Bookstore