BLUE CANOE by T.M. Wright (2009 PS Publishing / 191 pp. / hc)
Sub-titled "A Memoir of the Newly Non-Corporeal," Wright's latest offering of mind-bending, surreal horror follows the musings of a man named Happy Farmer as he attempts to recall his past from the confines of a nursing home (or is it a psychiatric ward . . . or even his grave?). In-between glimpses of his history, Happy shares his experiences of traveling across the lake (located right outside his window) in a blue canoe, and what he discovers in a little village on the other side.
Much time is spent recalling a woman named Epistobel; Happy swears she was real, then wonders if she had ever existed. He eventually remembers much about her funeral. He also spends much time dealing with a young woman who brings him meals, and contemplating a dog that continually runs back and forth across his doorway. Later in the story, Happy begins to recall the story of a missing young girl, Lily Hand, adding another dimension to his (already) manic viewpoint.
BLUE CANOE is a trippy, head-scratching excursion into a life that's either on the verge of Alzheimers, afraid of what waits on the other side, or is somehow penning this memoir FROM the other side (and it may eventually come to light that Wright is telling this from all three sides---only time will tell). Wright's writing is as sharp and witty as ever, this time sprinkled with more humor than usual. Few writers can make you truly care for their characters; Wright's ability to create characters who may or may not be real, who may or may not be ghosts, and STILL have the reader believe in them is an amazing accomplishment on its own. But placed in a story this deep and challenging, its pure genius. I read this in two sittings and didn't want it to end. Highly recommended.