The Yellow Ribbon Snake

J. R. Dailey, Author John Daniel & Company Books $12 (160p) ISBN 978-1-880284-37-7
A modern-day Don Quixote who finds redemption and simple pleasures even in a lifetime of disappointments, Jacko Lee is one unlikely hero readers will root for. Vietnam veteran, fervent animal lover and self-proclaimed ""thinking man,"" Jacko is an expressive, albeit sweetly simpleminded, reporter of the goings-on in his downtrodden Arizona hometown. He lives in a box in a homeless compound near a truckstop and spends his days wandering the desert along highway I-10, sometimes accompanied by his buddy Sonny Ray, other times on a lone but eventful pilgrimage. He conscientiously visits his grandma's grave to have a chat with her and listen to the other dead people; looks after Norton, his pet spider, but woefully misses his old dog, Corky; and stops by the local junkyard to look for treasures, and the town strip joint, Slammers, to catch a glimpse of the pretty ladies in lingerie. Besides these routine adventures, Jacko also befriends a troubled, low-end hooker, Darla, and sets out to avenge the death of a man whose body he discovered along the highway. Confident that he can take care of himself, Jacko persistently but ineffectively tries to fend off his concerned sister, Marie. But Marie has other worries: her cop boyfriend Salazar, with a passion for horses; her drug-dealing ex-boyfriend Rosario, with a passion for guns; and her terror of aging. As Marie frets about getting old and Jacko is haunted by the ghostly memory of his mad, obsessive mother, the fear of death metaphorically darts through the narrative as the yellow ribbon snake. This first novel is a vividly poignant inside look at the disenfranchised and marginalized people on the fringe of society, among whom the wandering hero manages to find some peace at last. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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