The plaid vibe and rainy weather of contemporary Portland, Ore., is the backdrop for Raymond’s second novel, about the quest for love, authenticity and organic produce.
When the book begins, Amy and Damon are lost, and at a loss. They find themselves in a cul-de-sac in the outer suburbs of Portland when they should be on an on-ramp to the freeway. This dilemma is given figurative form in the debate they begin about an owl perched on a jungle gym, a traditional symbol of wisdom that appears on the first page of a book filled with unwise characters. The Rain Dragon of the title is an organic cooperative of hardy soul, occupying the grounds of a former poor house and producing yogurt, honey, soap, flowers—the produce as diverse as the people. Amy and Damon are drawn north from L.A. to this place, hoping to cure their malaise. The book focuses on Damon, who discovers that things are not all that different in the land of yogurt and honey than they were amongst the palms, exhaust and plastic surgery. Damon’s evolution parallels his relationship with Peter, the co-op’s charismatic founder. As Damon is drawn into Peter’s orbit, voluntarily doing the dirty work for a company with an improbably changing mission, he begins to realize why he undertook this journey north in the first place.
What happens to Damon, a capable man, as he discovers his talents are wholly unsuited to the stable and sustainable life he desires? The book’s most compelling question remains open, inconclusive and as unsettled as the characters’ lives.