Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World
In Search of the Great Penguin
A trip of a book in which any resemblance to The Odyssey is purely coincidental. Homer didn't even know penguins existed.
Is not one of the initial archaeological records of Homo typicalis the imprint of a foot at Olduvai Gorge. Why? Because it wanted to get to the other side. Homo typicalis has always been a migrant worker. And when it stopped migrating was when former migrators inhabited the land it wanted. At which time Homo typicalis became an invader, whereas Homo atypicalis threw a big party and married into the family. What this goes to prove is Human is not indigenous to anywhere and, following after the example of rocks that Ice Age glaciers moved hundreds of kilometers, should be classified Erratic. For Human to be other than Erratic indicates, if not an aberration, a dramatic shift in consciousness, which is in itself another exempli gratia of the inclination to change. Symbols of human should not be astrologically or sexually subclassified but should be, universally, the sign of the moving van.
--Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin
Faith is about to get married. Then she falls and whacks her head. Next thing the reader knows, she has made off with the wedding gifts, and virtually kidnapped an old friend to serve as her psychologist during a cross-country drive to a rendez-vous with who she imagines is her true love godzilla. The catch is he knows nothing about her fixation.
Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World or In Search of the Great Penguin takes the reader on a journey into a magical and sometimes alarming level of reality where all is truly connected and no one, nothing, is inconsequential, not even the most seeming minor character. Historical exposition, social commentary, and psychological and spiritual reflection enrich and illuminate the free flowing complexity of the basic plot line which includes the search for the great penguin, a struggling touring band, and a woman fleeing her impending wedding with all the wedding gifts. Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World or In Search of the Great Penguin is not a novel to skim lightly. It is an experience that may change the way you view the universe.
Once upon a time there was an Antarctic Emperor penguin that was mailed to a cold place in Wyoming called Little America. This cold place was named Little America after Admiral Richard Byrd's ice-shingled, circa 1933 Ross Shelf expedition camp down where the Emperor penguins roamed, which was how someone got the brainy idea to mail a penguin to Wyoming in the first place.
The Emperor penguin died en route. But that's all right. Its carcass was preserved, not on ice but in glass, destiny conspiring with destination to make the bird a fun curio for the Ross Shelf's foster child, the Little America haven for travelers bested by Big Daddy America's comprehensive sea to shimmer shining sea gluttony in Wyoming's southwestern desert.
Plants, weather, funereal customs etc. have regions to which they are specifically native, or such is the pedagogical idea. Nevertheless, the summer monsoons that nourish India are generated by the planetary heat engine in Africa, and the ash that was wiped up, as dust, off a Victorian sideboard in Kansas City on September 2, 1883, had its source in the August 27, 1883, eruption of Krakatoa in the Dutch East Indies; and that is how the conclusion is very scientifically drawn (with much supporting data, of course) that "indigenous" is a misnomer. 200 million years ago all the world was one stage called Pangaea, which grew weary of its neighbors (or lack thereof), migrated and became multiple continents. Is not one of the initial archaeological records of Homo typicalis the imprint of a foot at Olduvai Gorge. Why? Because it wanted to get to the other side. Homo typicalis has always been a migrant worker. And when it stopped migrating was when former migrators inhabited the land it wanted. At which time Homo typicalis became an invader, whereas Homo atypicalis threw a big party and married into the family. What this goes to prove is Human is not indigenous to anywhere and, following after the example of rocks that Ice Age glaciers moved hundreds of kilometers, should be classified Erratic. For Human to be other than Erratic indicates, if not an aberration, a dramatic shift in consciousness, which is in itself another exempli gratia of the inclination to change.
Symbols of human should not be astrologically or sexually subclassified but should be, universally, the sign of the moving van.
See the world. Plant spores do it. Butterflies and salmon do it. Canadian Snowbirds sun featherless limbs on the Gulf of Mexico. Via satellite, raft, horse and buggy, automobile, train, boat, bike, balloon, or a fully restored 1949 Harley Davidson 45 CI, by land, by water, by air mail, and military service, the instinctive urge to trip the globe fantastic transpollinates culturally, and otherwise, whether purist of prejudice likes it or not. Phone and TV recapitulate, to the global minority who possess them, the One World message of Pangaea that migration did not dispel but confirmed with broader horizons.
Even Mother Earth likes to travel. Once a year she loop-de-loops the Sun.
Shifting landmasses cause earthquakes all so a clump of sagebrush--yea, eventually San Francisco Bay--be supplied a new neighbor, and a river or stream is permitted an occasional change of beds. Technically, these earth-shifting occurrences are a natural outcome of pressure and the means of releasing tension. Naturally then, to alleviate a long build-up of what could be thus termed as motivation, Faith had the option of standing still and volcanically erupting or effecting a move.
Or maybe she didn't do anything. Maybe the world was happening to her when she'd strolled into her future in-law's dining room that Monday morning to trip on a lace noose the family dog had made of her trousseau, collide with the treacherous edge of the "picture window" dining table (hammered copper embracing cut glass, more than one game of eye spy guess-who's flowered undies had disgraced a dinner guest), then rise, head bleeding ("piquant" was how the interior designer had described the assailant) and drop the first piece of wedding silver into her bag. Without forethought, the compulsion so strong she was helpless to stop and consider either the motivations or possible consequences of her actions, she circled the dining table, transferring into her sole possession the sterling weight of fashion's creamiest designer conscious cutlery, asparagus servers, sardine and ice cream forks, teaspoons and cucumber and butter picks.
All the while, visions of outlaws danced at the end of a rope in her head, macabre tourist-interest photos she'd once been treated to as just desserts visual appetizer at a steak restaurant somewhere in Texas, the Friendship State. The outlaws as well had been trying to escape something, hadn't they? she considered.
Nor did the ravaging of the prenuptial haul end there. The congratulatory promise of holy wedlock gathered in dazzling display, weighing down the sideboard and shelves of a massive hutch, stacked on card tables brought in to catch gleaming overflow, relinquished its pride to her like a too-effective golden hen. The groom's family playing host to the blessed event, seven of the eight traveling bags which she'd been presented upon her arrival several days earlier soon jingle-clunk-clank-jangled the tune of all good returns. Seconds thereafter, a blushing pink leather golf bag (6 way full length fur dividers, 5 zippered pockets including full length apparel pocket and roomy ball pocket) emptied of its clubs (gift from her future father-in-law, owner of a pro golf shop) proved a handy receptacle for the twenty-six place settings of platinum-rimmed china courteously produced by a cornucopia of a bridal registry.
She debated over the Osiris and Isis pewter chalices. What she'd had in mind was the fine Osiris crystal glassware collection, stems intended to recall heathen columns adorned with lotus flowers, not ritual ware which when held upright symbolized the open womb, ready to receive; when inverted, spoke of birth and realization.
Just as well. Crystal would have crushed to sand under the Zojirushi Rice Cooker.
The house was empty. With no unnecessary hysterical protests to hinder pilgrim's progress, Faith loaded the bags in her car. Down a steep hill to the left, Mrs. Hodges' chlorinated, bright blue pool, one of the smallest human-made bodies of water in the world, glittered happily, favorably impressed with its pine wood deck upon which no one lingered though two iced drinks rested on a table shaded by a sunny, yellow and white striped umbrella.
Mrs. Hodges, a friend to the Harms, bobbed up from a breast crawl to witness Faith's theft but not wearing her glasses she was none the wiser.
"They gave me these bags. They wanted me to do this, to leave."
As for the neighbor on the right, if the kitchen window had eyes, the dermatosciophobic, tight-lipped silence of the ever drawn curtains wasn't saying.
Faith, blood still dripping past her left eye and by now completely paranoid, pushed her Ferrari to the top of the mountainous driveway, dropping the negligee she'd used as bandaid. A blight of conscience seemingly under way, she climbed in and rolled silent wheels down the drive of the house which, to the unskilled eye, was indistinguishable from any other suburban fortress on the street.
Before she is gone, a mention should be made of the backyard and its swing set, both long unused, not even the green for putting practice. The house that occupied 3636 Locust Court, though its facade advertised a three or four bedroom nuclear family chain reactor, had, yes, four bedrooms, but also eight bathrooms, living room, den, study, game room, kitchen, dining room, breakfast room, exercise room, sauna, and maid's quarters all crammed on a pencil width's two acres of prime real estate within Birdie's view of one of the more famous courses in the golfing world. That narrow two acres of real estate had meant that with each addition to the house, Mrs. Harm aggrandizing, the rear became further and further removed from its suburban middle-class front, and still it nowhere approached the forlorn swing set where Marshall Harm's tennis shoes once shaved the earth bald, which is where the displaced and torn trousseau of his bloody bride-to-be would later be found buried. This is only mentioned in order to bring up again the existence of the family dog, a fetching dachshund, and not because it would later, tail wagging, uncover a white negligee dotted with blood that it was in the process of burying even as Faith slipped silently away down the driveway. No, this is mentioned because those who aren't interested in neighborly suspicions of homicide will certainly be animal lovers and desire that the generally unappreciated family pet find a good home in the end.
Let's terminate, here and now, the fear that a homicide or four may find its way into the plot. There are enough heinous crimes committed, in fact and fiction, without Marshall Harm, his fiancee Faith Hazy, or any with whom they will be closely acquainted drawing a blood bank nickel's worth of someone else's plasma for sake of avenging Abel, or to provide Cain company in his exile. Not everyone acts out the murder in their heart. But let's not underestimate Faith's ability to frog leap minor legalities qualifying what rates a good scream. As a runner-up to out-and-out premeditated murder, the crime of the here-undifferentiated outcast, the sense of his treason against the status quo, claims its fair share of indignant howling recompense, and Faith was doing a good job to make certain a number of households would be screaming down god's vengeance when that afternoon's facts were had.
Literature. How easy is that? No genre. Just literature.
2 DOES IT HAVE SEX IN IT?
Yes. It's not erotica but there's sex in it. Dark comedy sex. Funny and kind of disturbing sex. Sex with a point, and the point is that some people really should have better boundaries.
3 IT'S A COMEDY?
You're only hanging around because I said there was sex in it, but that's all right, though I should warn you there's not a lot of sex in the book. But I found a work-around that makes it a moot point whether or not there's a hell of a lot of sex in the book, as the universe is all about sex. I cover that in the book, and one of the characters has difficulties coming to terms with this revelation.
Yes, to answer the question, it is a comedy. I say that Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin is serious comedy for thinking people.
4 HOW LONG IS IT? CAN I READ IT IN A NIGHT?
You're asking all the right questions. It's very fucking long. It's thick with words long. Full of stories and digressions kind of long. There's no reading this book quickly, but people who read it say they don't want to read it quickly. They like to reread and reread pages, absorbing them and getting the full heft of them.
5 THAT SOUNDS KINDS OF WEIGHTY.
Which is why I made it LOL funny. To ease the pain of heavy lifting.
6 I'M A READER WHO LIKES WEIGHT. IS IT WEIGHTY ENOUGH?
It's weighty, but I'm sly about it. The characters do most of the heavy lifting and being knocked around. The meaning of life is their roadrunner and they're the coyote getting pianos dropped on them out of the sky blue in the desert.
7 WHAT'S UNENDING WONDERS ABOUT?
That seems like it should be such a simple question, doesn't it, but as the plots of my books aren't intended to be the end-all-and-be-all experience, the question always stumps me. My books aren't just about a story or characters, though I take great care in building what I hope are strong and very believable characters that will stick with the reader and be as immediate for them as they must be for myself and do become for myself.
In this book, a woman named Faith Hazy, on the perilous eve of her wedding, runs off with the wedding gifts, and it's probably just as well as, initially, no one is that interested in looking for her. That certainly raises some red flags, that no one initially gives chase. Noises are made about being interested in looking for her, but no one really cares. She even has to trick an old no-longer-friend into driving cross country with her for company, ostensibly as her psychologist.
It's a little problematic that I'm a woman writing a book with such a plot. If I happened to be a man writing about a woman running off with her wedding gifts, people would expect it to be about something more than a woman stuffing her car with all the silver and disappearing. It would be expected that the novel have social relevance and be of substance. Because I'm a woman, most people are going to think that's the end-all-and-be-all of what must be a chick lit story and that there's nothing more to it than that. They'll get their nails done and have some drinks and some romance.
8 A WOMAN ESCAPING AN IMPENDING WEDDING WITH ALL THE WEDDING GIFTS. I DON'T KNOW. THAT DOESN'T SOUND LIKE HEFTY LIFTING TO ME.
I don't know what isn't serious about skipping out on your wedding at the last minute and taking tens of thousands of dollars of gifts along with you to support you in your next phase of life. Faith falls and hits her head and the next thing she knows she's stuffed the gifts in the gift of an old Ferrari and is running off, though she doesn't yet admit it to herself. She immediately happens on an old friend, Chance, a college graduate and waitress who's living in her car as she can't afford an apartment, and tricks her into a cross-country ride, less fleeing the wedding than looking for a future. People think Faith is a nightmare asshole, but I like her. She's Mephistopheles to Chance's Faustian nature. What Faith thinks she wants is her boyfriend's father, Grant Harm, a golf shop owner. She flees toward his rocky mountain vacation home in Utah, believing his soul will hear and understand and that he'll follow. Chance agrees to go along for the ride because (1) her friend is seemingly off the rails and needs help, and (2) she hasn't been on a cross country trip since she was a kid, when she saw the Great Penguin in the desert. She agrees to play guardian, hoping to find that enigmatic great penguin again. Along the way they meet up with a road band composed of musician's musicians playing crap music for a living. Together, they form a caravan out of New Orleans for the western wilds. Their journey is a road map of OUCH, THAT HURT!
In the meanwhile, the families of the bride and groom, back home, are blowing up, because though they may not care about the disappearance of these women, the upset destabalizes the little gravity that's kept them bound together and to earth. I hesitate to say more about this because there's so much about the progression of the various stories that is fun to discover as you read.
If you want to take a look at a pdf of the opening chapter and the chapter headings you'll find all you want right here. As you will see, I leap right into the main plot of Faith absconding with the gifts and skipping town. Anyone who picks up this book and reads the first paragraph will know immediately what it's about.
Some of the stories are true. Fictionalized but based on fact. I spent years on the road, so I know something about all those ouches and how unglamorous the road life is. Plus, we never had money, and when you're on the road you get very intimate with your vehicle and what it might be like to be homeless and living out of it, because you are. You're essentially homeless for weeks and months at a time, and most traveling troubadours don't make much money. They survive by sleeping in vans and on floors.
Also, I was concerned about the then rapidly increasing, vast divide between the one percenters and the four percenters and the rest of us. When I initially conceived of the novel was long before anyone began discussing that economic chasm, but I was alert to the canaries piling up at the entrance to the coal mine.
When I initially conceived of the novel was after a major road trip, which I called The Great Penguin trip, in my early thirties. Thelma and Louise hadn't yet happened, and when it did I felt kind of, "Oh, damn," but Thelma and Louise is an entirely different story from Unending Wonders. My first attempt at Unending Wonders ended up being something with which I wasn't happy, so I put the book aside, waited a few years, then tried again. And rewrote and rewrote and rewrote, as I do with all my fiction.
9 SEE THE WORLD. WAIT. SO, IT'S A ROAD TRIP NOVEL. HAVEN'T THERE ALREADY BEEN ENOUGH ROAD TRIP NOVELS AND MOVIES?
Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper ended Easy Rider by getting their characters killed, which was only to symbolize the uselessness of their trip, the trip, and their spiritual bankruptcy in that they erroneously thought they could find in Florida what they'd failed to locate in their own Hollywood back lots. They should have known better. Dorothy of Kansas had been spreading the gospel for years. But Frank Baum neglected to say that some people have better back yards than others. Actually, to move into unfamiliar territory means, sometimes, to be forced into seeing the world in a new way.
Plus, they have to find the Great Penguin. Or, Chance has to look for the Great Penguin. They have to do the road thing.
10 CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS WITHOUT ANY SPOILERS?
I'll try. Watch the animation below.
Plus, Chance ends up in a near catatonic state from existential shock. But the journey of how that happens has to be experienced in the reading.
11 THAT'S A SUPER CHEAP LOOKING KIND OF NOT AN ANIMATION. YOU DID THAT YOURSELF?
You think that's cheap looking? This is my visualization of what happens when they run into a giant man-eating tumbleweed.
The video's supposed to look like what it is. That's part of its charm. Thank you for noticing. I made it in as few minutes as possible. That's also me narrating, and it's unnerving every time I hear it. I think I sound a little like David Lynch in it, but then we both grew up in the northwest.
12 WHY'S THE BOOK COVER DIFFERENT IN THE VIDEO?
That was a limited edition first printing. In other words, I thought better of the cover and formatting and changed it. Not that I wasn't fond of that first cover. I still am. But I thought better of it.
13 WHAT'S THIS ABOUT THE GREAT PENGUIN?
I saw it. With my own eyes. I was ten years of age.
How I saw it went something like in the video below, like how Chance saw it when she was a kid and must search for it again. It had the exact same kind of magic.
Chance fully expects the penguin to be somewhere out there in the desert, by the way. There's no reason for her to believe it shouldn't be out there, a giant fiberglass penguin in the desert, a roadside attraction of monumental proportions, like a Jeff Koons sculpture.
14 YOU'RE SAYING IT'S A BOOK WITH MYSTIC LEANINGS?
And it's highly political. The mystical is nothing if not mind-fucking, anti-traditional politics.
15 AND IT HAS SEX IN IT?
Grant Harm and his lawyer, Priscilla Paisley, like to meet at a little hideaway called the Oasis. She likes to pretend he's James Bond.
But everything, as I said, is about sex.
Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin is a veritable titanic of Pathos, a little sugar seasoned with an ocean of salt effervesced with laughing gas. Serious funny business for readers who would rather sink into their stories rather than skim on the waves.
16 WHY IS THE BOOK ONLY FOR SALE ON LULU?
You mean why is it self-published, or why only have it available at Lulu? I self-published because it's literary fiction and I expected I would never find a publisher. As for why it's only at Lulu, the price hike to publish a paperback at Amazon is pretty high, this is a thick book, and I didn't want that kind of imposing price. I may eventually give in and put it up for sale at Amazon as well.
I have no plans presently to do a Kindle version because of its length.
17 WHY DON'T YOU HAVE REVIEWS?
Look at how I allow me to ask myself embarrassing questions such as this. Gutsy. I don't have reviews because people haven't written reviews. Why don't you buy it and carry it around proudly like you're reading the next, big, unknown thing that deserves to be known and tell everyone how great it is. When you're done reading the book, write a review and post it at Lulu and Facebook, recommend it to your book club, send me a photo of you holding the book so I can post it.
18 WHAT KIND OF RESEARCH DID YOU SAY YOU DID FOR THIS BOOK?
Life. Life on the road. Plus I did journey across the U.S. looking for the Great Penguin of my youth. That trip eventually germinated the novel. Of course, it was nothing like the trip in the novel, though we did visit some of the places in the novel. I made the trip with my husband and we just had a great time outrunning snowstorms. Crossing over the Hoover Dam did do a number on our car, as in the book. We didn't stop in Las Vegas. We had planned to stop, but after so much time in the desert, when we got into Las Vegas, the last thing we wanted to do was ruin the peace of the desert with Las Vegas' craziness.
19 WHAT ELSE CAN I BUY OF YOURS?
Check out the books page for information on The Rhetoric of Streets and Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine.