Pot Farm

Matthew Gavin Frank. Univ. of Nebraska, $16.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-0-8032-3784-1
After the Compassionate Use Act was passed in California in 1996, legalized marijuana became big business: "Under this proposition, patients deemed ‘seriously ill' by their doctors can legally obtain and use marijuana to relieve their symptoms." After caring for his own sick mother for over a year in his childhood home, Frank (Barolo) and his wife Johanna pack up and ship out for the Weckman medical marijuana farm in California, "hoping the experience could spark… well… something." As Frank recounts the story of their time on the farm, he readily cops to being an unreliable narrator, and, what's more, a stoned one. So while his story is not uneventful, it is veiled by a shifting fog that tends to occlude the narrative. When we are there on the ground among the pickers (the field hands), the snipers (armed guards in treetops), and the stoners (everybody), we are made to feel a little disoriented ourselves. And while this may be intentional (i.e. form reflecting content; Frank is also a poet), disoriented is no way to go through 232 pages. The result is tedium, like getting stuck in a conversation with a guy who just got high and won't stop talking about it. Though Frank is a likeable and candid narrator, his "scribblings of varying degrees of sense" amassed during his toilsome tenure amount to little more than just that. Though occasionally entertaining and obliquely informative, Frank's Farm is mostly fallow. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/19/2012
Release date: 03/01/2012
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