Robert (Bob) A. Garfinkle began his writing career in 1979. One day, he decided he was going to write the next great American novel, so he went to the local Safeway and bought a box of pencils and six yellow lined legal pads. Though none of the first 60 pages that came off the tip of his pencils ever made it into his first novel, the writing muse had hit the now-former auto mechanic and real estate salesman hard. In 1984, Bob completed his first novel, “Tarnished Trophies”, which was about the herbicide Agent Orange and its toxic effects on our Viet Nam War veterans. Bob had secured a literary agent, but she was unable to place the manuscript with a publisher. He is currently searching for a literary agent to handle his second novel manuscript, entitled “Scent of the Harvest.”
While he was writing the first novel, Bob began his technical writing career at Westinghouse Electric Company in Sunnyvale in August 1981. While the manuscript was in circulation, Bob began writing software reviews for “Business Software” and astronomy book reviews for “Astronomy” magazine. With his success in nonfiction, Bob wrote several articles on the astronomical technique of star hopping. These articles became the basis of his first published book, “Star-Hopping: Your Visa to Viewing the Universe” (Cambridge University Press, hardback in 1994, paperback in1997). In 1997, he was hired to co-author the book “Advanced Skywatching” (The Nature Company, Time-Life Books, 1997).
Bob has had two short stories and many astronomy articles published in local, national, and international publications. In 1998, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society of London. Bob is currently under contract with Willmann-Bell to write a major lunar observers’ handbook. He also writes book reviews for a local weekly newspaper that covers the Fremont/Newark/ Union City area.
Bob served as co-chair of the Ask-A-Pro program at the 2004 East of Eden Writers Conference and served as chairman for the same program at the 2006 conference. He has also chaired the Basil Stevens Memorial Writing Contest in 2004 and 2006. Bob represented the South Bay branch on the Central Board of the California Writers Club, and served the Central Board as the custodian of the board’s "Policies and Procedures" document.
Bob has earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in History (1975) and English Literature (1994) from California State University-Hayward (now East Bay). He has also taken writing and editing courses from the University of California Berkeley Extension. Bob has studied creative writing under Leonard Michaels ("The Men's Club"), Donald Barthelme, Diane Johnson, and Tim O'Brien (1978 National Book Award winner for "Going after Cacciato"). He has taught eighth grade history, high school economics, and adult school auto repair classes. Bob’s wife, Kathy, has been an elementary school teacher at Patterson School in Fremont for 38 years.
Bob served as an elected public office holder for 13-1/2 years; 5 as president of the Union Sanitary District Board of Directors (1984–1989) and 8 as a Council member on the City Council of the City of Union City (1989–1997). With the City having financial trouble, due mainly to the fact the State had taken over $1.2 million away from the City in 1991/92, Bob and two other members of the Council faced a recall in 1993. Bob beat the attempt to recall him by ONE vote out of over 10,000 votes cast. Three months later, he was overwhelmingly re-elected to a second term on the Council.
Bob has the unusual distinction of being laid-off from two jobs on a Friday, November 22nd while a Bush was living in the White House (1991 and 2002).
The photograph shows Bob at the eyepiece of the 36-inch Cassegrain telescope at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland in July 2004.