THE CANNIBAL QUEEN by Stephen Coonts

THE CANNIBAL QUEEN

An Aerial Odyssey Across America

KIRKUS REVIEW

 The record of a flight, in the summer of 1991, to each of the contiguous 48 states in a WW II-vintage biplane trainer, by bestselling novelist Coonts (Flight of the Intruder, etc.). Though the subtitle seems to beg the book's comparison with John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley or William Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways, Coonts's gee-whiz tone soon places his book into a kind of upbeat appreciation of America rather than into a dour, midlife odyssey. You'll recall that Steinbeck was at the end of a long, somewhat soured career, while Heat-Moon had lost in love and seemed to be at the end of his career. Coonts, however, is divorced but riding a crest of popularity, and to pursue his chief passion, old airplanes, with the book already bankrolled is a wonderful lark. Even to include his 14-year-old son, David, on part of the journey seems calculated, although the father-son takes are appealing, particularly when David, high above the earth, folds his arms and announces, ``I'm bored.'' Coonts makes pilgrimages to such shopworn shrines as Disneyland, Hannibal, and even Mt. Rushmore, but he hasn't here much fresh to say about them; he's just a tourist. On the other hand, the culture of the private plane comes delightfully to life as Coonts marvels at a country where every little town has its strip, its laconic air controller, its cheap, clean motel just down the road. His observations on world politics seem pedestrian, but his insight into general aviation is clear and noteworthy: ``The general aviation industry is dying. Federal regulation and the legal system have driven it to the lip of the grave where it is waiting to expire and fall in.'' Middle-class, upbeat to a fault, and unmeditative. Yet the descriptions of flight and the portrait of an America seemingly trapped in a time-warp are arresting. (Eight page photo-insert--not seen.)

Pub Date: June 8th, 1992
ISBN: 0-671-74884-X
Page count: 360pp
Publisher: Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1992




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