The formula (if there is one) for a successful novel includes the ability to write clearly so that the gradual ascent, denouement, and resolution of the story is free of dissociative clutter that diminishes the impact of the story, to create characters who are immediately recognizable visually and psychologically and motivationally, and to find an idea that is fresh and intriguing and credible no matter how much fantasy is introduced. Candi Sary obeys all these concepts and the result is a tightly woven novel that is not only beautifully written but also brings up social situations that deserve our attention while keeping the us tied to a concept that can only come from a rich fantasy life.
The story involves an only child Carson, said to have been an American Indian with healing powers in a previous life according to his shabby alcoholic fortune telling mother whose boyfriend doesn't want to settle in to a family so mother and son live in motels in the colorful and downtrodden landscapes of Hollywood, CA. Carson is 13 years old, naïve, loves his seldom sober mother, dreams of his war hero father, copes poorly with his occasional outbursts of rage against the night, and spends his days strolling the streets of Hollywood, soaking up the grime (his hair and clothes are so dirty that he is termed smelly at school - when he attends) where he encounters the owner of a tattoo shop (Faris) and the owner of a head shop (Casper) and tries his `healing powers' that had previously only been tested on his mother's hangover headaches, discovering that he does indeed have the power to heal. How he uses that power and how his relationship with the outer world becomes more credible than his tenuous connection with his mother drives this story to a well-crafted conclusion.
Where Sary shines is her descriptive prose with which she bathes this coming of age story. The idea that Carson can heal and his mother can tell fortunes fits squarely in the setting of the sleazy Hollywood scene. Some examples of her waltzes with words, `Most people only listen to the noise of the world, but they don't get in touch with spiritual sounds - the ones that don't come down through our hearing' she places her hands over her ears `but enter here', her hands went to her heart. You, Carson connect more deeply wit the vibrations than anyone I've ever known.' `It's all about that hundred percent...more important than my power to predict [people's futures] is my power to make them BELIEVE'. The author gathers us into the fold of each of her cinematically real characters and the manner in which they speak, react, develop, and hope in an environment that on the surface appears to be little more than a sinkhole of life is a triumph of fine writing. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, March 13