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Buffett's return to Margaritaville
Tully Mars, the introspective cowboy introduced in Jimmy Buffett's best-selling short story collection, Tales from Margaritaville (1989), is back in a truly unforgettable storytelling tour de force. It involves an abandoned Caribbean lighthouse, an expatriate on the run from psychotic bounty hunters and a 102-year-old woman's improbable dreamall blended together as only Buffett can, with generous helpings of liquid libation.
Buffett's first novel in more than a decade can be best described as one big madcap quest involving a cast of characters that could have easily appeared in a modern-day retelling of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. In addition to Mars, "a good guy with a few bad habits," and his trusted horse Mr. Twain, there's Thelma Barston, a mentally unstable poodle ranch owner; Waldo and Wilton Stilton, bumbling twin bounty hunters; Tex Sex, a famous country singer with more than a few skeletons in his closet; Ix-Nay, an Indian medicine man; and Sammy Raye Coconuts, a flamboyant world traveler and entrepreneur.
Mars, lying low on an idyllic Mexican island after a confrontation with his former boss in Wyoming turned violent, fatefully meets a woman who will change his life. Cleopatra Highbourne, enigmatic captain of a legendary schooner, enlists Mars to help her restore a 150-year-old lighthouse in the southern Bahamas, on an island called Cayo Loco. The reconstruction, however, includes finding an extremely rare lens. Thus Mars begins a questboth physical and spiritualthat will lead him to Mayan shamans, internationally renowned entertainers, drunken sailors, wily pirates, cult leaders, hedonistic spring break coeds and even a few ghosts.
If Tales from Margaritaville was the literary appetizer, A Salty Piece of Land is the long-awaited five-course meal. Buffett's newest offering is both breathtakingly beautiful and wildly bizarre, laugh-out-loud funny and heartbreaking, irreverent and profoundeasily his best work of fiction yet.
Paul Goat Allen writes from Syracuse, New York.