Today I talked to Josh Fernandez about his new memoir The Hands That Crafted the Bomb: The Making of a Lifelong Antifascist (PM Press, 2024).
Josh Fernandez is a community college professor in Northern California who finds himself under investigation for “soliciting students for potentially dangerous activities” after starting an antifascist club on campus.
As Fernandez spends the year defending his job, he reflects on a life lived in protest of the status quo, swept up in chaos and rage, from his childhood in Boston dealing with a mentally ill father and a new family to a move to Davis, California, where, in the basement shows of the early ’90s, Nazi boneheads proliferated the music scene, looking for heads to crack. His crew’s first attempts at an antifascist group fall short when a member dies in a knife fight.
A born antiauthoritarian, filled with an untamable rage, Fernandez rails against the system and aggressively chooses the path of most resistance. This leads to long spates of living in his car, strung out on drugs, and robbing the whiteboys coming home from the clubs at night. He eventually realizes that his rage needs an outlet and finds relief for his existential dread in the form of running. And fighting Nazis. Fernandez cobbles together a life for himself as a writing professor, a facilitator of a self-defense collective, a boots-on-the-ground participant in Antifa work, and a proud father of two children he unapologetically raises to question authority.
Josh Fernandez is an antiracist organizer, a father, a runner, a fighter, an English professor, and a writer whose stories have appeared in Spin, the Sacramento Bee, the Hard Times, and several alternative news weeklies. He lives in Sacramento, CA.