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Edge of Nowhere – “Coming to Terms”

July 14, 2014

 Smelcer

by John Smelcer

Print Length: 154 pages

Publisher: Leapfrog Press

Price $8.99

Buy now from Amazon. Click:  Edge of Nowhere

The writing improves—less adverb, adjective over-filled sentences as the writer/reader gets into the real story. And what is that? On one level it is a boy lost at sea rediscovering his heritage with the land that eventually saves him, on another it is his exploring his relationship with a father the boy believes responsible for his mother’s death.

How do you do this with only one character in a scene? I’m not sure you can, after all Huck had Jim and Robinson Crusoe, Friday. Wait a minute Seth does have someone else. His dog, Tucker. It is through his saving the dog, the dog’s temporary loss underwater near a huge freighter, and the dog’s reappearance that we experience, and the boy experiences, what “missing” means.

Sure there are other elephants in the room—the oil spill, dead Japanese WWII soldiers, the dislocation of natives, earthquakes, but these are metaphoric backdrops. And there are others. I particularly liked the cycle of salmon returning home, the story of the squirrel hunter introducing each chapter and the credibility of someone new to living off the land (has anyone ever started a fire rubbing two sticks together? Is there any boy who hasn’t tried to do it?)

I have traveled to Alaska, seen beluga whales, but this is not my culture (I grew up in Chicago). However I did have a father and trying to understand him is key to coming to terms with who I am now. This book, with its example of someone on that journey, is an opportunity to do that and move the title from “Edge of Nowhere” to “Edge of Now.”

John Smelcer is a very good writer who just keeps getting better.

4 out of 5

 

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