Monday, March 24, 2014

Featured Book - Somewhere Upriver

Somewhere Upriver
Patrick Loafman


“Somewhere Upriver” is a novel  about amphibians and herpetologists; it's about white-man Afros and Bigfoot; it's about the Queets rainforest in Olympic National Park; it's about a puff of medical marijuana; it's about salamander toxins, and how newts and pufferfish and ancient Haitian mythologies are all interwoven to a bearded biologist in the northwest corner of the U.S.
Or something like that.

About the Author
Patrick Loafman is a wildlife biologist, artist and musician, living on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. His fiction and poetry have been published in two chapbooks and over twenty literary journals. He edits The Dandelion Farm Review and his short story collection, A Freckle Shaped like California, is forthcoming.Somewhere Upriver, published by Event Horizon Press is his first novel.

Reviewed by Terence Kuch, author of The Seventh Effect and See/Saw
Somewhere Upriver is a story of the Olympic Mountains of coastal Washington state, of the wildlife and sometimes-wild people who live there. Douglas Mortimer is the young scientist narrator who comes of age joining in the improbable adventures of the man who becomes his mentor, Peter Vernon. Peter is a dedicated naturalist who knows everything about salamanders, and soon the reader does, too. If this sounds like an improbable course for a novel, think of the best-selling books that taught us all we know about whales, great white sharks, elevators, velociraptors, viruses, and seagulls; Somewhere Upriver joins this popular and illustrious crowd.

The novel divides into three distinct parts. First the salamander-search, as the scientists look for new species. Gradually we recognize Peter as the center of the novel, larger than life, a gentle force of nature, a guru and shaman as wild and untamable as the mountains he roams in: a great naïf, innocent of his constant disruption of everything around him.

An incident of apparent poisoning leads to the second and best part of the novel: the trial of Peter Vernon for murder. Peter acts as his own attorney, disrupting the proceedings in as strange and entertaining a trial as you’re likely to encounter since Arlo Guthrie’s, but for much higher stakes. About to be convicted, Peter pulls off a scientific surprise and is freed.

In the last part of Somewhere Upriver , Douglas and Peter stumble across a hidden government installation protected by what has got to be the USA’s most inept FBI agent. The agent takes several people prisoner in a cabin in the forest, but thanks to Douglas’ heroics, the hostages escape.

Wonderful touches fill this novel, especially the imaginative imagery of textures and tactile sensations:

“The morning sky, blanched and anemic, fell to its knees. Wisps of clouds stretched their fingers outside my window as if searching Seattle for the strongest cup of coffee, a jolt of caffeine so the clouds could lift themselves off the city streets and return to the sky where they ought to be.”

and the couple who live underground, cautiously raising a moss-covered periscope to see what’s happening in the world outside.

But Peter Vernon remains the center of this tale: “I get into a little trouble now and then,” Peter says, “but at least you can’t say I’m boring.”

And none of this novel is boring, either: wonderful characters, action, humor, a little sex, and a vivid picture of one of the last American rainforests. It's great testimony that I really cared how the characters fared in the years that followed, as told in the epilogue.

And oh, yeah; I almost forgot the toads. We learn a lot about toads, too!
Connect with the Author
Visit my web page for more about my book, my art and see videos of me playing homemade gourd musical instruments:

Click here to buy from Barnes & Noble

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