Saturday, July 22, 2017

Muir Woods or Bust - Ian Woollen

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You can always look forward to a delightfully madcap cast of characters in Ian Woollen's novels, and Muir Woods or Bust (forthcoming from Coffeetown Press, August 2017) does not disappoint. Gil Moss is a father, recent widower, and leading psychotherapist in the emerging field of Eco-Mood disorders who spends an unhealthy amount of time conversing with his dead wife, Melody. His son, Chum, is a not-quite-launched young adult living at home, a gamer (and likely hacker though Gil would really rather not know) holed up in his room commanding a mission control-like dashboard of screens and devices. Gil and Chum get by, but neither is exactly thriving, living instead in the fringes of life rather than engaged in the thick of it... Until! Doyle Wentworth, an ornery former client and washed-up reality TV star kidnaps Gil and forces him to drive to LA so Doyle can reclaim his standing in the world of entertainment. Hijinks, misadventures, and mischief ensue for all involved, with a good dose of self-reckoning for our unlikely heroes and their supporting cast.

Muir Woods deftly threads modern environmental anxieties and gaming sensibilities into a story inspired by nature advocate John Muir, and binds them together with humor, playfulness, and a great, great deal of heart. This is the third Ian Woollen novel I have read, and I never fail to be struck by the deep but messy love his characters have for each other, and how they always muddle through and come out on the other side imperfect, but redeemed. In a time in which the daily news tends to leave me overwhelmed with anxiety and cynicism, Muir Woods offered a fun, thoughtful and welcome reminder not only to have faith in, but to absolutely relish our shared, flawed humanity.

My thanks to the publisher for a complimentary review copy of Muir Woods or Bust.

Happy reading!


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