First Novel Starts New Chapter for Hooper-turned-writer Tom Meschery ’61

To take on a new challenge, writing and publishing his first novel, Tom Meschery relied on the same characteristics that made him a basketball star.

Far from the "ordinary jock" he once viewed himself as, Tom Meschery is diving deeper into the artistry of words and story, publishing his first novel with a hint of Saint Mary's within its pages.

Meschery's first fiction, a mystery novel titled The Case of the '61 Chevy Impala - A Brovelli Brothers Mystery, was released October 11 by Camel Press. "It's really more of an amateur sleuth story," he modified. It’s been a work of determination and was heavily inspired by his Gael classmates.

Ron and Don Dirito, twins, were Meschery's classmates in the class of 1961. "They were hellacious guys. Very funny, very bright," Meschery recounted. "In the years after our graduation, I told them 'One of these days I'm going to write about you guys.'" 

That promise to past classmates is finally fullfilled. 

Their fictionalized counterparts are Victor and Vincent Brovelli. Both sets of twins are Saint Mary's alumni and both own a car dealership. In real life, Ron and Don own Dirito Brothers Volkswagen in Walnut Creek. But the likeness ends there. 

"I changed a lot of stuff. It's not about them, it's about Victor and Vincent. I believe fiction begins with character, rather than plot," Meschery divulged. 

Set against the tumultuous social politics of 1968 Oakland, the main characters find a body in the trunk of a repossessed car. That's when the twins turn into gumshoes. 

Pursuing a new stage of his career posed many challenges to Meschery. He's published poetry, but not fiction. "The first effort was just awful." In fact, he says a friend and fellow novelist returned it with red ink shouting back at him: "Meschery, I thought you could write better than this." 

That rejection activated a deep-rooted side of his personality.

"I was never a great athlete," he conceded, "but I was always a very determined athlete. Always very stubborn about being right, working out, working hard. I'm a very stubborn guy, I was a stubborn basketball player too."

To say Tom Meschery is multi-faceted is an understatement. He was an outstanding basketball player, leading Saint Mary's to the Elite Eight in 1959 and named an All-American in 1961. He played for the Warriors (in both Philadelphia and San Francisco) and the expansion Seattle Supersonics. He was selected as an NBA All-Star in 1963, won the NBA Finals in 1967, and played alongside Wilt Chamberlain in his 100-point game. His retired number hangs in the rafters in UCU Pavilion (31) and the Chase Center (14).

After his basketball retirement, his second and third acts began—he became an high school English teacher, published books of poetry, and has been inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame.

"Poetry is part of my heritage. I knew that I loved poetry from the very first words out of my parents' lips. They're Russian and I'm Russian. I grew up with poetry. While it wasn't easy for me, it was always part of me."

Meschery fondly declares that "his light bulb went on'' at Saint Mary's. A self-classified ordinary jock and C-student while at Lowell High School in San Francisco, everything became illuminated in Moraga. Seminar classes and dissecting classic texts unlocked a world of words. 

"After that, I knew that I was going to be a lifelong reader and would have a lifelong interest in language, words, and syllables, even. That's what got me going."

And still going, publishing his first novel at 83.