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 Dead hippies save the Maine forest in a shamanistic fable only a New Age devotee could love, though followers of Arthurian and magical fantasies may swell the readership. Pot-smoking Tex and Molly, middle-agers who live on a houseboat in Cold Bay (off Dublin, Maine), get high, accidentally fall down a hidden woodland well and, like Alice, wake up in wonderland. In this afterlife they're more alive than dead. Their astral surroundings are much like those in the material world, and Grant (Views from the Oldest House, 1989, etc,) has some fun with the differences (Tex must concentrate profoundly to make a cup of tea). The afterlife is peopled with prehuman spirits as well as with spirits imagined and given life by humans. Amusingly, Tex hides in an acorn that is eaten by a pregnant bear and then issues forth as a cub when the mother is shot; Molly's version of the afterlife, meanwhile, is less strongly drawn than Tex's and fits more into goddess mythology. As things move forward, Gene Deere, a plant geneticist with the powerful, tree-gobbling Gulf Atlantic corporation, wants to change the way trees are grown and to replant the forest with an ``unnaturally'' shaped tree that will be more energy-efficient to harvest. He falls in with Ludi, a sparkly young member of the late Tex and Molly's Cold Bay Street Players (they hold rites and dance around in animal masks to drive off bad treekiller vibes), who eventually leads him down the right path. When a Gulf Atlantic forest burn-off threatens to wipe out huge tracts, wily Tex, who has himself been hectoring the seemingly helpless dryads to unionize, invokes the greatest prehuman spirit of all, the Bishop of Worms, to save Dublin from becoming a wasteland. A between-worlds experience, in all, that Grant's facile fabulism robs of the force, beauty, and imaginative verve needed if an afterlife tale is to have a strong pull.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-380-97304-9
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1996

Kirkus Interview
Richard Grant
October 20, 2015

In Dispatches From Pluto, adventure writer Richard Grant takes on “the most American place on Earth”—the enigmatic, beautiful, often derided Mississippi Delta. Richard Grant and his girlfriend were living in a shoebox apartment in New York City when they decided on a whim to buy an old plantation house in the Mississippi Delta. Dispatches From Pluto is their journey of discovery. On a remote, isolated strip of land, three miles beyond the tiny community of Pluto, Grant and his girlfriend, Mariah, embark on a new life. They learn to hunt, grow their own food, and fend off alligators, snakes, and varmints galore. They befriend an array of unforgettable local characters—blues legend T-Model Ford, cookbook maven Martha Foose, catfish farmers, eccentric millionaires, and the actor Morgan Freeman. “An appealing stew of fecklessness and curiosity, social psychology and social dysfunction, hope and despair,” our reviewer writes. View video >


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