Birmingham author celebrates past in new novel

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published December 22, 2020

 Jim Auker, of Bingham Farms, based his first novel on  his childhood growing up in the Birmingham area.

Jim Auker, of Bingham Farms, based his first novel on his childhood growing up in the Birmingham area.

Photo provided by Linda Ashley Public Relations

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BIRMINGHAM/BINGHAM FARMS — While a world of political tensions rages around him, for a young Birmingham boy, life’s toughest battles are the ones faced in the halls of his school, and sometimes, vicariously through the players on the field at Detroit’s Tigers Stadium.

That’s the plot of a new work of fiction available from first-time novelist and Bingham Farms resident Jim Auker.

“The Atomic Bomb Ring” is the story of an energetic, go-for-broke 10-year-old growing up in Birmingham circa 1950.

Based on his own childhood growing up here, Auker’s story is centered on his quest to track down the Atomic Bomb Ring promised on a cereal box from none other than The Lone Ranger himself.

Throughout the tale, the reader goes along with Auker on a journey that goes much deeper than just a toy ring but, instead, with suspense and hilarity, explores issues of truth, justice and abuse from the perspective of a youngster in the midst of it all.

“This is a story I always wanted to tell. It’s part truth and mostly fiction, but it is authentic when it comes to the way we, as youngsters, felt like we owned the streets of Birmingham, how we coped with bullies and fought our own battles, faced abuse, had our secret adventures and learned lifelong truths,” he said in a press release.

Born and raised in Birmingham, Auker moved with his family to Massachusetts when he was 12, went to Middlebury College in Vermont and moved to Hollywood before returning to the Birmingham area in the 1980s.

He is an award-winning film editor, writer, producer and published author, who worked in Hollywood for 14 years with John Cassavetes, Dennis Hopper and many others.

Auker is also the son of former Tigers pitcher Elden Auker, who had a distinguished career in Major League baseball, including a World Series championship with the Detroit Tigers.

Auker’s father plays an important role in the novel, but readers will have to look closely: He’s transposed as a war hero rather than a baseball star, with a code of justice he tries to pass on to his son.

Eagle readers will recognize other details in the book from their hometown, including plenty of references to Woodward Avenue and landmarks like Mills Pharmacy, the Wigwam and Hunter House.

But it’s a good read for just about anyone, according to Alex Cruden, formerly a chief of copy editors at the Detroit Free Press who got a sneak peek at the book before its publication.

“‘The Atomic Bomb Ring’ rockets with all the anxious devoted-to-life energy coursing through a 10-year-old,” Cruden said in an email. “This is (a) true, true, true story about a kid and his dog and his buddies and tormentors, and basic justice and the birth of love, about evasion and truth and authenticity. Most of all, it is a genuine story — a heart-gripping, side-splitting quest.”

“I just read ‘Atomic Bomb Ring’ almost in one sitting. Marvelous story,” said Don Chaffee in an email. He’s a professor at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids who grew up in Birmingham.

“(It) evokes kids’ lives I remember (…) setting and references just add icing to the cake,” Chaffee added. “Well done, well written.”

“The Atomic Bomb Ring” is available for purchase on Amazon in paperback or digitally on Kindle.

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