- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: The Overlook Press; 1St Edition edition (May 27, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1590203291
- ISBN-13: 978-1590203293
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,479,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Point Dume: A Novel Hardcover – May 27, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Arnoldi (The Wentworths) relies on one red-blooded character to conceal that the rest are archetypes in this ripped-from-the-headlines drama. Ellis Gardner is the surfing queen of Point Dume, Calif., feared, lusted after, and envied by the yuppie moms who filter down from the mansions overlooking the ocean to take surfing lessons. Ellis's childhood friend Pablo is the hunky surfing instructor, but he's also been amassing a small fortune finding and robbing small marijuana crops planted by Mexican cartels on the slopes of unsuspecting property owners, then selling his harvest. His current rival for Ellis's affections is one of those absentee owners, Frank, a rich midlife surfing convert who's unaware that his wife is one of Pablo's best customers. Meanwhile, Felix Duarte crosses the Mexican border for the dangerous but lucrative job of guarding one of the secret patches from which Pablo steals. Arnoldi hothouses the concerns of all equally, so Frank's existential crisis ranks as highly as Felix's hunger- and isolation-induced hallucinations up on the ridge and Ellis's unexpected pregnancy. The prose style is spare and powerful and the pages turn effortlessly. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Arnoldi revisits the themes of obsession and amorality that she so skillfully exposed in her previous works (Chemical Pink, 2001; The Wentworths, 2008), this time pitting iconic segments of Southern California’s counterculture against each other in an apocalyptic race for survival. Flinty surfer-chick Ellis’ on-again off-again affair with married vineyard owner Frank is complicated by a surprise pregnancy and her equally unsettled relationship with her childhood best friend, Pablo, now a drug dealer who supplies pot to disaffected housewives, like Frank’s wife, Janice. Stealing from the contraband pot farms operating deep in the canyons, Pablo is captured by Felix Duarte, an illegal immigrant smuggled into the country by the Mexican drug cartel to manage their operation located on the periphery of Frank’s estate. When the Santa Ana winds pick up and a single spark erupts into a conflagration, Mother Nature regains control of the land everyone, save Ellis, has been wantonly abusing. Crisp pacing, caustic characterizations, and acerbic satire inform this darkly comic fable. --Carol Haggas
Top customer reviews
Ellis is sleeping with Frank but despises herself for it, even as part of her enjoys the hold she has over him. Meanwhile, Frank's wife Janice, along with a dozen or more women like her, is sleeping with Ellis's friend-with-benefits Pablo, the pot supplier of choice to the area's bored but doped-up housewives. Sound like a dysfunctional community? A recipe for disaster? You'd be right.
Behind all this "Desperate Housewives" meets Blue Crush drama is the drug-growing economy that supplies pot poacher Pablo with his best bud. The Mexican drug cartels, daunted by post-9/11 improvements to border security, have solved that problem by secretly planting acres of marijuana fields in public and private lands throughout the American West, including Frank's own backyard vineyard. The growers pack military-grade weaponry and use industrial-strength pesticides on their crops --- and, by extension, in the nearby ocean. Personal tragedies constantly lurk around the edges of POINT DUME, but none so poignant as that of Felix Duarte, an idealistic young Mexican man drawn to the States by the promise of a better life for his family back home, inspired by the amorous response of his girlfriend to earn money so he can marry her. But heat, stress and isolation soon take their toll, and Felix's dreams of a better world are swallowed by troubling hallucinations.
The chapters of POINT DUME focus on the various players in this tragicomic story: Ellis, Pablo, Frank, Janice and Felix. The chronology moves from spring to summer to fall, when, as Ellis reminds us, "Santa Anas signaled the end of summer." The Santa Ana winds, and the wildfires they often fuel, portend the characters' crises flaring up, but they also, perhaps, foretell a chance at a return to Ellis's ideals, another chance at a simpler beginning.
In her acknowledgments at the end of the novel, Katie Arnoldi makes it clear that part of the purpose of POINT DUME is to shed light on the problems of environmental degradation resulting from the U.S. government's drug policies and the Mexican drug cartels' tactics. Certainly anyone who has read a newspaper carefully over the past several years is aware of these concerns on at least some level. Where POINT DUME shines is in its ability to put a human face on these ripped-from-the-headlines circumstances. Arnoldi's characters are broadly drawn, to be sure, but she gives each of them a certain humanity, their stories a poignant urgency, that will draw readers in to this interdependent community and not let them go.
Anyway, after reading every word on her website and ordering her last 2 novels (also awesome), I pre-ordered this book despite the fact that I never pre-order books. I'm an immediate gratification kind of person. All I can say is that it was worth the wait. It's a beautiful looking book with both a rocky beach and a pot leaf on the cover, so I am glad to have it in hardcover. And the book is the adventure I hoped it would be. I would have read it all in one night if I hadn't forced myself to get some sleep! The characters are unusual and yet heartbreakingly real, and a couple of them really changed the way I think about things like immigrant rights, the environment, femininity and material possessions. It's rare that a novel with such killer storytelling effect your views like that. I belong to a book club that's always on the hunt for novels that will challenge, entertain and surprise us, and POINT DUME definitely delivers on all levels. I can't wait for us to discuss it at our next meeting!
Most recent customer reviews
Pablo Schwartz is a good friend of Ellis's.Read more