Dan Dair, Author Elderberry Press (OR) $19.95 (152p) ISBN 978-0-9658407-0-5
An old, decaying fishing village on the Pacific coast is the allegorical setting of Dair's Manichaean tale, with evil represented by the tersely named Berkeley psychology professor Gabriel and good embodied by Jan Olsen, a Vietnam vet. Back in hippie days, GabrielDpart Charles Manson, part Karl MarxDestablished a commune in the fishing village. Jan, a working-class kid who comes back from the war feeling double-crossed, flirts briefly with Gabriel's lifestyle and gets sent to prison for drug smuggling on the testimony of one of the commune's uglier inhabitants, Peggy Sue Potter. Peggy Sue has renamed herself Holy Cow and, after Gabriel moves on, she becomes a feminist, a leader of a pagan cult and most probably a killer. Jan, meanwhile, meets a priest in prison and converts to Catholicism, but he gets a reputation as a murderer after he kills a cell mate in self-defense. After his release he goes back to the village. Suspecting Gabriel is masterminding the cocaine trade in the village, Jan confronts him.Gabriel hasn't changed and still ventilates his poisonous philosophy, the keystone of which seems to be a faith in abortion. Dair lends his far-right screed a Faulknerian intonation, packing long paragraphs with melodramatic perorations. Even those of the same ideological persuasion as Dair will find this shoddily written novel rough going. (Feb. 1) Forecast: The publisher has announced a 50,000 first printing and a 22-city author tour. The latter, if it holds, obviously will boost sales, but the 50,000 copies sounds like a lot for a title that seems destined to garner weak reviews and tepid word of mouth. The book's ho-hum cover won't help much, either.
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
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