Monday, March 1, 2010

The Wisdom of Loons by Jeff Dennis

The funny thing about this book is that I don't usually read this kind of stuff. I stick with the action-oriented page-a-minute type of thrillers or classic sci-fi by Edgar Rice Burroughs or Heinlein or horror by H.P. Lovecraft or Rod Serling - you get the picture. This book really expanded my horizons.
To be honest, though, Jeff Dennis' "The Wisdom of Loons" is a lot like Serling - very Twilight Zone-ish. It's really a foray into a surrealist universe peopled by some very down-to-earth types - a guy who just wants to relax with his dog and go fishing, and a woman and her cantankerous father who just want to get away from it all for a while.
Enter Lake McDowell in the mountains of Georgia, where nothing is as it seems. The loons (birds that look like ducks but who can dive underwater like fish), play an integral part in the story of Cal Blevins and his would-be girlfriend, Lauren Talbot (no relation to the Wolfman, Lawrence Talbot - I asked), and Lauren's father, Edgar.
I like Cal because he plays guitar like me. That's how he meets Lauren - she hears him play and falls for him immediately. The same thing happened with my wife. Well, sort of. Anyway, Cal soon learns that Lauren's father had a stroke recently and is a little loony himself when it comes to loons. Edgar not only is obsessed with the birds, he starts making loud, obnoxious bird calls and driving poor Lauren nuts.
Cal tries teaching Edgar some guitar licks, which helps create humor to kind of balance out the ongoing tension between Edgar and Lauren.
But Edgar's obsession with the loons goes even deeper - so deep it becomes a mystical experience, such as when the birds fly over the mountain, five at a time, in a perfect "V" several times. What does it mean?
Lauren and Cal fall for each other hard and poor Edgar feels left out, going even further into his own little world, doing crazy things like trashing the cottage and wandering off at night into the forest to find loon eggs.
They even meet a few helpful Native Americans along the way, who live in the mountain and help them try to understand the ways of the loon.
Lauren and Cal see and experience a lot of weird, inexplicable things which at first don't make sense. But in the end, it all comes together in a memorable way.
And by memorable, I mean mind-blowing.
This book isn't Dean Koontz and it's not meant to be. It's a love story with supernatural elements that will jerk a few tears, produce a couple of guffaws and maybe even clean some of the cobwebs out of your brain.
Above all, though, it's just great storytelling, which is what every novel aspires to be. I highly recommend it, because "Loons" is a unique literary experience.
Check out "The Wisdom of Loons" by Jeff Dennis at

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