Muir Woods Or Bust

Muir Woods Or Bust

by Ian Woollen


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As the 21st century lurches forward, weather weirdness abounds, begetting the rise of a new psychiatric syndrome: Eco-Mood Disorders. Or so psychologist Gil Moss believes. Of course, Gil is also hallucinating visits from his recently deceased wife, an Earth Liberation Front activist. And from 19th-century environmentalist John Muir. Abducted at gunpoint by Doyle Wentworth, an elderly client who played John Muir in a satirical, anti-environmental FAUX-TV miniseries, Gil journeys westward via freight train, private jet, and stolen automobile, aided and pursued by colorful figures from Gil's and Doyle's pasts. Destination: Muir Woods and the auditions for the revival of Yosemite Yahoos. Soon after Gil leaves Bloomington, his reclusive son Chum is also dragged west by Gil's former student Amanda to pitch his video game Phantom Vampire to Amanda's billionaire ex. A vision quest for the ages. Gil wants to tell you all about it, including the story of his great-great-aunt healing young John Muir from a grisly blinding in an industrial accident in 1867. But computer problems and selective amnesia have stymied Gil's attempts. Until this unexpected cross-country spree leads him, and his fellow travelers, to their true callings.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781603815970
Publisher: Epicenter Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 07/25/2017
Pages: 216
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.49(d)

About the Author

Ian Woollen was born and raised in Indianapolis and now lives nearby in Bloomington, Indiana, where he works as a psychotherapist. He has a BA from Yale University and an MA from Christian Theological Seminary.

Woollen's most recent novel, Uncle Anton's Atomic Bomb, was shortlisted for the Balcones Prize. His first novel, Stakeout on Millennium Drive, won the 2006 Best Book of Indiana Fiction Award. His short fiction has surfaced in a variety of journals, including The Massachusetts Review, Fiction Southeast, The Smokelong Quarterly, and The Mid-American Review, from which he received a Sherwood Anderson Prize.

Read an Excerpt

Gil unlocked the office door, flicked on the waiting room lights and the radio. He primed the coffee machine. “Pour yourself a cup when it’s brewed. I’ll just take a few minutes to open up shop.”

“I don’t drink coffee,” Doyle Wentworth said, “hardens your arteries.”

“There’s tea, if you’d prefer.”

“Tea is for sissies,” Doyle said, “and by the way, why does every waiting room in every therapist’s office have a Georgia O’Keeffe poster on the wall?”

Gil contemplated the colorful print of shells and mountains given to him by Melody as a tenth-anniversary present. He said, “It’s a conspiracy of the Goddess Worshippers.”

That silenced the old cowboy.

Gil stepped into the consulting room. Checked phone messages. Watered his plants. No major alarm bells yet. People often acted brusque and nervous before a first session. Gil reminded himself to start with the most basic of therapeutic skills: “Be a non-anxious presence,” his first supervisor, Sig Savage, advised.

As a graduate student in the heyday of psychodynamics, Gil often heard Sig predict that the universe would send him the clients he deserved. This would include his own special “client from hell,” who would activate all his buried vulnerabilities. Years went by without such an apparition. Gil imagined this creature would probably take the form of his long-absent father, Captain Roscoe Moss. AWOL from his family and his post at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis. A wounded fucking warrior, if there ever was one. He disappeared when Gil was eight. Grown-up Gil occasionally fantasized Captain Roscoe showing up in his office to ask for help with his retroactively obvious PTSD from the Korean Conflict.

Frankly, after Melody’s death, his father’s abandonment felt less important. Or did, until Doyle Wentworth plopped down on the couch and said, “Don’t you recognize me?”

Gil’s body tensed in a way that is not supposed to happen to regular yoga practitioners. The musculature of the psyche cramped. Gil attempted to hide his anxiety using a secret method to maintain the appearance of calm in front of clients. Clenched toes. Inside his shoes, hidden from view, his toes locked tight.

Gil coughed and squinted at Doyle, trying to see underneath the beard to a time-lapse facial reconstruction of his father’s ruddy, imperious mug.

Doyle Wentworth turned in profile and squeezed his lips and scrunched his brow into a comically ghoulish frown. No, this wasn’t Gil’s father. This was worse. This was Sig Savage’s prediction come true.

“Sure, I recognize you,” Gil said, “the TV actor—”

“Eighty-ninth on the list of the Greatest Bad Guys of All Time,” Doyle boasted.

“You’re Number One on my list,” Gil blurted out. Ouch. A crack in the neutrality frame. Professionalism swamped by indignation.

“Well, thank you.” Doyle smiled, revealing a set of villainous teeth. “You were part of the faithful millions who watched Yosemite Yahoos.”

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