Campbell launches this sentimental glider with the observation that ""People and pigeons are curiously much alike"" and never lets upon the parallelisms. Hugh Baudoum, a fiftyish bachelor returning to his childhood neighborhood, relives ""the big day"" when he and his beloved grandfather Da released Dickens-the-pigeon for competition. Later, sitting down for lunch, Da suffered a stroke, and the aftermath--his incapacitation and brief struggle--neatly matches Dickens' interrupted flight home. This grandfather/grandson relationship is limned in a haze of muzzy reckonings (Da was partial to parable) and of cross-cutting memories--family scenes and pigeon-racing rituals. Ultimately the ten-year-old follows his instincts, pulling Da home from the hospital via wagon to die in his own bed. The pigeon, of course, appears right on cue. Did Jonathan Livingston Seagull hatch this plot? Like Dickens-the-pigeon, it won't arrive in record time.