Right up front, I'll admit to being a true Parrothead. Have all the albums/CD's, but never read the books.
Then, a kind friend heard I was under the weather and sent me her copy of WHERE IS JOE MERCHANT.
I've read a lot of what's been posted here, and I can agree with the people *including some professional reviewers* who say Buffett's style is a little sloppy.
However, what he lacks in style, he certainly makes up for in substance.
I loved the stories about: (1)Frank Bama -- bruised and battered pilot with a commitment phobia; (2) Trevor Kane - Frank's beautiful ex-girlfriend whose family tree is so full of nuts that her last name should be PECAN or WALNUT or ALMOND. Trevor's looking for her lost brother, the supposedly dead rock 'n roller Joe Merchant; (3) Colonel Cairo who's looking for his lost arm, a treasure trove and control of Joe Merchant's fortunes; (4) Desdemona, macaroon-maker extraordinaire, who has been receiving instructions from 'the generators' on how to build a space ship; and (5) more subplots than a Robert Altman movie.
There's plenty of blood, guts and action to keep even a Steven King fan interested. One of Frank's best buddies blows up a fleet of jet skis, and while it's funny on the page, it makes the reader think about man's impact on the pristine ocean.
With Desdemona, Buffett even throws in some new age cosmic jokes, with hilarious results.
There is a twist, however, and it caught me completely by surprise. I had to go back and re-read the passage several times before it sunk in.
If you're looking for the tight, compact style of Hemingway or if you're into stream of consciousness like Faulkner, this book is probably not for you.
However, if you want a good story peopled with lots of interesting characters who are flawed but wonderfully written, and if you've ever wanted to just chuck it all and live in the Keys, you will probably devour WHERE IS JOE MERCHANT as quickly as I did and you'll be wanting more Frank and Trevor stories.