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Book Review: The Flight of the Pickerings


Book Review: The Flight of the Pickerings

by Diane McCurdy

Go local! This is an exhortation that blankets our community. But mostly we think of it in terms of fresh fruit and vegetables. What about our local authors? The Flight of the Pickerings is a novel as well-written, funny and profound as any offerings currently gracing the prestigious best-seller lists and the author, John Heide, lives in Glen Ellen.

Two themes dominate his book , the infinite power of love and the right of the individual to chose their final exit from the planet. Guy and Dorothy have known each other since they were children and Guy has always worshiped Dorothy. They are now in their twilight years and she is not only seriously ill but is gradually slipping into dementia. Guy can't bear to see her suffer nor can he imagine life without her.  So he decides they will end it all together. But he is not very adept at his suicide attempts. His last effort just happens to coincide with the launching of a space shuttle. If all this sounds morbid, it is not. The story is portrayed with integrity, intensity and generous amounts of black humor.

The mark of a good book or film is the attention given to ancillary characters. In this, characterization is foremost. A purple haired grandson, a lazy old cat named Oscar, a sexy ambitious TV traffic girl, a harried NASA executive, a nosy neighbor and many more supporting players all contribute to Guy's ill-fated adventures. Inanimate objects are also given a voice. This is a tricky technique and must be handled with skill in order to succeed but two automobiles, the cat, various aircraft and a dead deer all have a say.

Anyone who has read the book always comes away with the comment, “It would make a great movie!” The whole story is intrinsically visual. For example, the signature scene would be of purple heart veteran, Guy, piloting a Beechcraft airplane while being chased by not only a TV traffic chopper but also by several military jets while the world awaits the launching of a spacecraft. Copies of The Flight of the Pickerings are available locally at Copperfield's Book Stores and Readers Books in Sonoma, and of course,