cover image WRITER FERRETS: Chasing the Muse

WRITER FERRETS: Chasing the Muse

Richard Bach, . . Scribner, $15 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-2754-4

Bach stumbled in the first two volumes of his new series of fables (Air Ferrets Aloft and Rescue Ferrets at Sea), but this effort recaptures some of the sense of wonder that made Jonathan Livingston Seagull a runaway bestseller. The protagonists are a pair of aspiring writers, Budgeron Ferret and his mate, Danielle, who are keen to climb the literary ladder. Budgeron, despite bouts of writer's block, has high hopes after selling a few short stories to some low-level magazines, and he hits it big when he publishes a series of novels for young ferrets (called kits). Meanwhile, Danielle pens a controversial romance "for the fun of it," which quickly becomes a bestseller. Much of the second half of the novel deals with the book tour that Danielle and Budgeron undertake together after becoming a successful literary couple. As hackneyed as the plot sounds, Bach's love of animals and reverence for the creative process keep the novel from becoming overly mawkish and sentimental; the icing on the cake is some tongue-in-cheek insight into the publishing process. The book also features crisp plotting, which was missing from the first two volumes of The Ferret Chronicles, and Bach's decision to avoid dwelling on the differences between the human world and his imagined ferret equivalent helps keep the prose economical. This is a lovable, entertaining story, which will tug at the heartstrings of even the most jaded. (Oct.)

Forecast:Two more volumes of the ferret series will be released later this year. Interest may slacken as their novelty value wanes, but Writer Ferrets, at least, should benefit from positive word of mouth.