Stray Not Beyondby Michael B. Pinkey
When Irving Carlisle left his Pennsylvania home and headed south towards Otterwood, North Carolina, all he wanted was more "Suttlespyce (Number 17)--the richest, rarest, most wonderful and elusive pipe tobacco in the world. It was going to be a long, strange, horrible time before he ever got back...
- iUniverse, Incorporated
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.52(d)
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Irving Carlisle, age and occupation unstated, has spent years refining his pipe smoking habit. Perhaps his biggest challenge has been to find a truly satisfying pipe tobacco. One day he receives a piece of junk mail. Addressed to ¿Occupant,¿ it offers for sale a tobacco with the odd name of ¿Suttlespyce (Number 17),¿ which he orders on a whim. When it arrives weeks later he finds it transformative: it is the life-changing blend he has dreamed of, a true miracle. He becomes a regular customer for two years, until suddenly all his orders and further communications with the address are ignored, leaving him utterly desperate. He takes leave from his job, and he and his cat Tweedler drive to Otterwood, North Carolina to get to the bottom of the mystery. He meets a succession of increasingly odd characters and bizarre situations which eventually become almost psychedelic in their strange randomness. I found myself thinking of Alice in Wonderland, except the present characters and situations are not nearly as endearing or totemic. The fictional territory of Stray Not Beyond's never-neverland part of North Carolina is more disorienting and threatening than charming. As I plowed through the hallucinatory episodes that constitute the bulk of Stray Not Beyond I kept telling myself it might all be worth it if there were a point ahead, either a plot-related or other thematic justification. I have nothing against novels which do not fit existing genres (I am the author of several), but I do ask that a novel have unity, and that the parts of it be there for a reason. Thus I was rooting for the story to come together at the end, and hopefully disclose the raison d'etre of the strange conceits that predominated throughout. There is a conclusion, at least to the mystery of the disappearing tobacco, though I cannot say that it made the odyssean, fantastic ramblings of the main character any clearer. The prose was cleanly written and there was minimal profanity, sex, and gore. I don't reject those things out of hand, but in this case on top of all the bizzareness they would have been too much. Carlisle did find his pipe tobacco. I was also pleased to see that my favorite character, Tweedler, survived despite being sadly neglected in the middle of the story. Stray Not Beyond is a work of considerable imagination, and as such might appeal to readers who enjoy sheer fantasy. For my part, I prefer my fantasy (or whatever style) assembled a little more purposefully.
Dare you venture into the depths of this highly imaginative, wild, humorous, and frightening tale? If so, prepare yourself for an exciting adventure with tons of twists, hilarious absurdities, puzzling mysteries, a world of horrors and hidden secrets, various interesting, contemplative, and magical moments, and more. This is not your ordinary novel. You can tell the author truly intended to give his readers their money's worth!