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A Salty Piece of Land Paperback – November 7, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
There's a Condé Nast Traveler article fighting to get out of bestseller Buffett's first new novel in a decade, a groovily laid-back, ramblingly anecdotal, sun-soaked bit of Caribbean escapism that his Parrothead fans will relish like another chorus of "Margaritaville." Tully Mars, a 40-ish ex-cowboy turned guide at the Lost Boys Fishing Lodge island resort, undertakes various sojourns around the Caribbean, to Mayan ruins, a jungle safari camp, a spring break bacchanal in Belize. Nothing much happens—"That day, we spent the rest of the daylight hours on the shallow waters of Ascension Bay and the lagoon amid incredible natural beauty unlike anything I had ever seen before" is about as busy as it gets—except that Tully meets a parade of colorful natives and expatriates, including a Mayan medicine man, a British commando and a 103-year-old woman who skippers a sailing schooner and wants to restore a historic lighthouse on Cayo Loco, the titular island. The characters are all hospitality entrepreneurs, and Buffett (A Pirate Looks at Fifty) also gives them shaggy-dog anecdotes, tidbits of Caribbean history and desultory life lessons to relate. There are glimmers of plot—bounty hunters, loves lost and found—but mostly Tully has little to do but savor the accommodations and atmospherics of tourist locales while the sea washes him with waves of love, happiness and maturity as infallibly as the tides. This book is as cheery and tropical as Buffet's music.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Singer, songwriter, and novelist Buffet is back, and so is Tully Mars, the inimitable protagonist from Tales from Margaritaville (2002). Recounting his transformation from cowboy to lighthouse keeper in eccentrically humorous style, Tully reminds us why Buffet's laid-back lyrics and stream-of-consciousness prose are almost hypnotically addictive. On the run after a tussle with his Cruella De Ville-like employer, psycho poodle-rancher Thelma Barston, Tully heeds the call of his beloved conch, evading a posse of bounty hunters as he heads south toward the swell of warm ocean breezes, encountering a predictable but nevertheless engaging cast of characters along the way. Eventually alighting on the edge of the Yucatan Peninsula, he crosses paths with Cleopatra Highbourne, the 103-year-old captain of the Lucretia, who entices him to join her in an almost quixotic quest. Hopping onboard the aging schooner, Tully embarks on a psychedelic odyssey that concludes with the restoration of an ancient Bahamian lighthouse on Cayo Loco--the aforementioned salty piece of land. This mystical, mind-bending journey will appeal to fans of Buffet's uniquely fuzzy blend of comedy and insight. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I picked up this book having really low expectations and was pleasantly surprised by the tales within. I had no idea Jimmy Buffet could spin such a delightful and entertaining yarn. If you have ever longed to leave your life up north and head to the beauty of the islands this book is for you. Although you would soon learn those island dwellers often live crazy lives ( in a good way, mostly)
Tully is a wanderlust cowboy but I think my favorite character was Cleopatra. I found her to be a very inspiring character, one you would really admire in real life. She is truly the captain of her own ship.
The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is I felt is dragged a little in spots, could have used a little cutting. This is a fun romp through the islands. Great for the beach, or really better for those cold winter nights. And yes, if you have traveled to many of these places...his yarns aren't quite so far fetched.
Florida Fiction does not have to be set in Florida. The settings can vary, as long as there is at least one oddball but tightly-knit community, usually with one or more characters who are habitually drunk or stoned. Christopher Moore set his stories in northen climes. Terry Pratchett writes about Ankh-Morpork, a fantasy city on a fantasy world. Still, the best Florida Fiction is set in Florida or at least off the coast of Florida, and to read the best of the best, pick up any book by Carl Hiaason, Randy Wayne White, or Tim Dorsey, or read Where is Joe Merchant? by Jimmy Buffet.
I had hoped that Buffet's A Salty Piece of Land would parallel Joe Merchant in style and development, since its jacket did promise colorful and bizarre adventures, but it fell somewhat short of my expectations. Had I not read Where is Joe Merchant?, I might not have been so disappointed; but in comparison to that earlier work, A Salty Piece of Land is flat, linear, and misses the unexpected and amusing situational complexity which I had hoped for. True, there are some iconoclastic characters, but I personally could not root for them (or perhaps identify with them) as hard as I did for the protagonists and supporting cast in Merchant. They seemed more limited in dimension. Perhaps A Salty Piece of Land might be considered to be a more mature, more reflective work than Merchant, but, to me, at least, it simply was not as much fun. A reasonably good book, mind you, but not up to Buffet's capabilities.